Rotterdam explosion: 13 injured, 150 homes evacuated

Thirteen people were wounded in an explosion and subsequent fire in an apartment on Moddermanstraat in Schiebroek, Rotterdam yesterday afternoon. The wounded were taken to various hospitals in the area, the Safety Region reports. The majority came away with minor injuries, only two were seriously wounded.

The police report that at least 150 homes were damaged and at least 150 people were displaced. The fire that raged after the explosion completely destroyed two adjoining homes. The pavement is covered in glass. Windows were knocked out of frames in homes up to 20 meters away from the explosion.  Emergency services are investigating the cause of the explosion. The initial assumption is that it was a gas explosion.

The police searched the building with sniffer dogs from the Urban Search and Rescue Team to make sure that no one had been left behind in the homes. This was done as a precaution. No one has been reported missing. The fire was brought under control around 18:00 last night. The evacuated residents were given shelter in the Goede Herderkerk nearby.

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb visited the destroyed apartment. The mayor was informed by the fire department. He then went to the Goede Herderkerk, where he informed the evacuated residents that the municipality will arrange shelter for those who can not be taken in by family. No one in Rotterdam sleeps on the street outside, these people will not either", the mayor said. He spoke of a "strong explosion" which caused a lot of damage in a wide area. The municipality, in cooperation with housing corporation Havensteder, are considering a long term solution. The affected property may be declared uninhabitable.

The police can not say anything about the cause of the explosion. "All sorts of rumors are going around about the occupant of the property, but as long as the investigation is ongoing, we make no statements", a spokesperson said. There has been no arrests. "Our first concern was to get the residents to safety and provide shelter."

The investigation will continue today in daylight. No asbestos has been detcted A large part of Schiebroek did not have power last night. "This was necessary because the power of the complex had to be turned off. Tomorrow we hope to learn more abut the cause."