Explosion rocks Amsterdam near hotel where hand grenade was found last year

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Stock image of a Dutch fire department Volkswagen vehicle. (photo: cakifoto / DepositPhotos)

People in Amsterdam received a frightening wake-up call when a large explosion rattled windows and shook floors early Saturday morning. The blast took place on the Korte van Eeghenstraat in Amsterdam Zuid at about 4:25 a.m.

There were no serious injuries, though two people were treated by ambulance personnel at the scene, according to broadcaster AT5. The explosion caused property damage to buildings and vehicles, police said. A reporter for the broadcaster said the explosion occurred beneath or next to a parked car in front of the Park View Hotel. 

Back on October 24, a hand grenade was found overnight in front of one of the hotel's entrances. It was found at 2:30 a.m. when an employee heard a noise, went to see what was going on, and found the explosive. The explosives disposal unit from the Defense ministry handled the grenade without incident.

On Saturday morning, police cordoned off both the Korte van Eeghenstraat and the larger Van Eeghenstraat during the police investigation, as well as parts of the Van Eeghenlaan. "The trace evidence research is still underway and will take some time," police said shortly before 9 a.m.

"But indeed, an explosion of worrying proportions. I have rarely, if ever, heard an explosion this loud," said Twitter user Derigiberbil. Several others said they could hear the incident even in Amsterdam West.

First responders activated a Grip 1 emergency plan before 4:55 a.m., which creates a coordinated chain of command for all emergency services. It also provides a procedure for the incident commander to share information between all emergency services, the mayor and municipal leaders, regional authorities and health agencies.

Korte van Eeghenstraat is a short, upscale street ends at the city's popular Vondelpark, and is a short walk from the Stedelijk modern art museum, the Concertgebouw, and the five-star Conservatorium Hotel.

Hand grenades and other explosive devices have become a common method in the Netherlands for criminal suspects to try and extort local businesses. The discovery of a grenade often prompts authorities to shut down the business in the interest of public safety during the course of a criminal investigation.

The City of Amsterdam established a task force in April to determine how best to tackle the increasing frequency of the risk, while also minimizing the economic damage to the businesses targeted. The task force was ordered by city council to present their plan by June 2020.

Last year former Amsterdam police chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said that hand grenades are easily purchased on the black market, and can be obtained for just five euros per grenade. Aalbersberg took office as the head of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism in February.

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