Two killed in apartment explosion near Rotterdam

Dutch emergency services in action
Dutch emergency services in actionPhoto: Dolfilms/DepositPhotos

Two people were killed on Friday after an explosion blew out the facade of an apartment in Vlaardingen, police confirmed. The incident took place shortly after 9:10 a.m. on the Van der Waalstraat in the Zuid-Holland city about five kilometers west of Rotterdam.

The two victims were initially reported as injured in the blast, which then led to a fire. Neighbors said a family with children was living in the apartment where the explosion took place, according to local broadcaster RTV Rijnmond.

“People are upset and shocked, but the situation now seems calm,” Vlaardingen Mayor Annemiek Jetten told newspaper AD. All 17 apartments in the building were evacuated, as were some other housing units, police said. Affected people were instructed to gather at the local city hall.

Gasoline was a possible cause, but a natural gas leak was unlikely, sources told the paper. An inspection was planned to determine if the building was stable enough to allow investigators to enter the facility, the coordinated Rijnmond regional emergency services office said in a statement.

By 9:12 a.m. emergency services personnel had dispatched a trauma team to the scene by helicopter and three ambulances. A minute later the incident was deemed a “large fire” on the first floor of the 17-flat apartment building.

The Grip 1 emergency plan was activated at 9:22 a.m. The plan calls for the coordination of all first responders under a single commander, and the procedural sharing of information between the command post, municipality leadership, regional authorities, and relevant public health agencies.

A power outage was affecting at least two dozen homes in the area, according to utility operator Stedin at about 11:00 a.m.