Hague man's rescue from rubble of exploded building "extremely dangerous": fire department

File photo of firefighters in Gelderland. 14 January 2007.Brandweer Dodewaard / Wikimedia Commons

The operation to rescue a man trapped in the rubble of a Hague building leveled by a gas explosion on Sunday, was extremely dangerous, according to the fire department. Rescue workers did their work in the middle of the building, the front of which had been blown away. There were great concerns that the rest of the building would collapse around them, NU.nl reports.

The victim, a 28-year-old man identified as Sherwin, was eventually removed from the rubble and taken to hospital just after midnight on Monday - some eight hours after the explosion happened. The extent of his injuries is unknown, but he was conscious and able to speak to rescue workers. Sherwin was the fourth person to be rescued from the collapsed building. A total of 10 people were injured, 8 of whom were hospitalized. Emergency services have no indications that anyone else is trapped under the rubble of the building on Jan van der Heijdenstraat.

The explosion happened at 4:10 p.m. The operation to rescue Sherwin started around 6:50 p.m. A specially trained dog brought a two-way radio to the trapped man, through which emergency services had constant contact with him, according the newspaper. RTL Nieuws reports that the man was trapped in a crawl space in the building.

Rescue workers first placed support beams in the building, so that rescuers could get to the man from the back of the building. By around 10:00 p.m. that proved to be ineffective, and another plan had to be made. Excavators were then used to remove some of the debris, so that rescuers could try and reach Sherwin from the front. "A service dog took him something to drink, but the medical team has not yet been able to reach him", a spokesperson for the fire brigade said to RTL around 9:50 p.m. "We're doing everything we can to reach him. We're going to try new tactics to get to him." 

By 00:10 a.m. on Monday the fire department announced that Sherwin was rescued. "After an hours long rescue operation, the fourth person was just removed from the rubble alive. Person was transferred to the ambulance."

So far no details were released about Sherwin's condition, or that of the other injured. 

The damage caused by the explosion was not limited to the affected building. Adjacent buildings were also made unstable by the blast. The residents of some 20 homes were evacuated and spent the night at a hotel. The police guarded the street through the night, to prevent theft from the homes. 

The fire department believes that this was a gas explosion, though the exact cause is still unclear. The police and fire brigade will start investigating that on Monday. Mayor Pauline Krikke of The Hague said on Sunday evening that they are working on providing more information as soon as possible.

One person who wished to remain anonymous told broadcaster NOS that there was a smell of gas in the building for several days. The person, who claimed to be a resident of one of the affected buildings, said nothing was done about the issue.

De reddingsactie in Den Haag is geslaagd! Sherwin is na 8 uur onder het puin vandaan gehaald. 'Hij maakt het naar omstandigheden redelijk goed.'

Geplaatst door RTL Nieuws op Zondag 27 januari 2019