HELSINKI (AP) — A powerful explosion in an apartment building in the Swedish city of Goteborg injured up to 20 people Tuesday, three of them seriously, and forced the evacuation of hundreds more, police and rescue workers said.
Police spokesman Stefan Gustafsson told The Associated Press that eight people were taken to the hospital and the cause of the explosion was not yet known.
The explosion took place just before 5 a.m. in the Annedal district in central Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city. Fires spread to several apartments, and crews from the local fire department were still working to extinguish the flames as of 9 a.m.
“It was burning in several places in the property and in several apartments after the explosion,” said Jon Pile, operations manager at the greater Goteborg rescue service.
Building resident Lars Hulten told the daily newspaper Goteborg Tidning that the sound of the explosion woke him up.
“It was probably the loudest thing I heard. The whole apartment vibrated. The bed vibrated,” he said.
Hulten said he saw desperate people who “hung from balconies, climbing over balconies. There was one who fell. It was very dramatic and a very fast course of fire and smoke.”
Another witness, Lars-Gunnar Wolmesjo, told Expressen newspaper that he, too, saw people on their balconies and “some climbed down, some jumped and some had to wait for the firefighters to pick them up with a ladder.”
Some of the building’s residents jumped out of windows following the blast, Pile told Swedish broadcaster SVT. He said it appeared the explosion took place in the building’s inner courtyard, which had its entry gate blown away.
The cause of the explosion is unknown but police have initiated a preliminary investigation. Swedish media said investigators were considering several theories, including a gas explosion or some kind of explosive device left by the gate.
“We believe that something exploded that has no natural causes,” police spokesman Christer Fuxborg told the Goteborg Tidning. The newspaper said three among those injured were three seriously injured women.