At least two dead as explosion rips through building in Madrid

At least two people died when an explosion broke through a building in central Madrid, the city’s mayor said on Wednesday.

Jose Luis Martinez Almeida told reporters at the crime scene on Calle de Toledo that a number of people had been injured to varying degrees, but he could not say how many were affected.

Initial investigations indicated that the explosion was caused by a gas leak, Almeida said.

The Vicar General of Madrid, Avelino Sevilla, told Spanish TVE that a person linked to the Catholic Church that occupies part of the building is still missing.

The explosion caused significant damage to the six-story building. Pictures and footage posted on social media by the city’s emergency services showed this.

The top five floors were completely destroyed and the walls blown out, while the lower two floors were mostly intact, but in places charred from the flames. Rubble and dust covered the immediate vicinity of the building.

Emergency teams could be seen helping several people on the ground.

Witnesses told Reuters that after the explosion, which struck at least four floors of the building, a cloud of smoke could be seen following a tweet from the Madrid Emergency Information Bureau.

Two people were rushed to the hospital, it said in a separate tweet. It is unclear whether they were the people who died.

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Leire Reparaz, who lives in the area, told the Associated Press that she heard a loud explosion just before 3 p.m. Local time (9 a.m. ET).

“We didn’t know where the sound was coming from,” said Reparaz, 24. “We went up the stairs to the top of our building and could see the structure of the building and a lot of gray smoke.”

This is breaking news. Please check again for updates.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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