Explosion left three wounded; teams search rubble for more victims

Explosion in Heerlen (Picture: Twitter/@MCMH1990)Explosion in Heerlen (Picture: Twitter/@MCMH1990)

Three people were injured in the explosion in an apartment in Heerlen on Monday morning. One of the victims was taken to the hospital in serious condition, the other two were treated by general practitioners, a spokesperson for the Limburg-Zuid fire department said.

The top floor of the apartment building on Van Weerden Poelmanstraat is almost completely destroyed. The explosion also caused a lot of damage to the surrounding homes and nearby stores. Sniffer dogs have been deployed to make sure that there aren't any victims trapped under the rubble. The dogs and firefighters have not been able to enter the buildings as a potential risk of collapse has not been ruled out yet.

Dozens of homes have been evacuated as a precaution. Gas lines were also closed. The about 40 evacuated residents have been given shelter at a care center where the Red Cross is assisting them, NU reports. "We want to make sure that all homes are safe. Only when that is certain will the people be allowed to return home", a spokesperson said.

Acting Mayor Frans Weekers called the explosion a terrible disaster for the residents. He spoke to the evacuated residents at the care center. "Thank God that there were only a few wounded. The residents are in shock." he said. According to him, finding the affected residents somewhere to stay is the top priority. "The most important thing is that their homes are safe. These are now being architecturally examined. Safety comes first."

The explosion happened around 08:00 a.m. on Monday. The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but the police suspect that it may have been a gas explosion.

The housing corporation Wonen Zuid confirmed to NU that the part of the building where the explosion took place was empty due to renovation.