VideoEmergency services collectively turned on Thursday an explosion at the corner of Kristinastraat and Ooststrat in Ostend. Police said a large gas explosion occurred at about 11:30 a.m. A firefighter and a policeman, among others, were seriously injured.
The officer is said to be in critical condition. A witness who witnessed the explosion said, “I heard people screaming in panic.” The video images show the massive devastation: in some apartments it seems that all the furniture has been affected by the impact. Between 15 and 20 homes were damaged, Mayor Tomlin says. There is no suspicion of additional casualties, but that is not certain at the moment.”
Eyewitnesses heard a loud explosion around 11:30 am. The gas explosion was accompanied by flames at a height of several meters. There is still no absolute clarity about the circumstances. “Our services are complete at once,” the police said. Municipal emergency plan announced.
According to Ostend Mayor Bart Tomlin, three people are currently infected. A firefighter and a policeman, among others, were seriously injured. The officer is said to be in critical condition. A woman working nearby was also injured. “It’s about a counselor for children with disabilities,” Mayor Tomlin says. She worked in a fast food restaurant for people with disabilities. A very nice project where it helps people with disabilities in the service. It is very painful for such a situation to happen there.”
The material damage is significant. An apartment building was badly damaged. The area is being evacuated as many buildings have become unstable as a result of the explosion. At least 15 and possibly 20 homes were damaged. “Because of the instability, we can’t get there yet,” says fire chief Jeroen Ponte. The danger of a sharp explosion was now over. The gas is still burning though. Among other things, the nearby De Groeiboom daycare center, with 22 children, was earlier evacuated. All evacuees, about 25, are greeted nearby at the De Grote Post cultural centre.
Tomlin says the exact cause of the explosion is being investigated. “The cause of the explosion may have been a pipe that collided during roadworks, but it must be determined by experts.”
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Witnesses say it was a massive explosion. “Two in a row,” says Anita. She was helping out at a hair salon in Kristinastrat during the explosion, when she saw several police officers and firefighters passing by the display case.
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“Seconds after I left the display case, two big explosions followed,” the woman said in shock. “The window shattered into a million pieces. If I were still standing there… I can’t think of it.” Immediately emergency services took the woman and her dog. “I heard people screaming in the background, but I couldn’t do anything.”
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