Big gas explosion in Turnhout: police declare medical emergency plan

Big gas explosion in Turnhout: police declare medical emergency plan
Photo from Belga

A heavy gas explosion occurred in a four-storey apartment building in Turnhout, which lies in the province of Antwerp, near the Dutch border.

One flat is completely gone and eight people were missing, but many have since come forward, according to VRT. Earlier reports that four children were among them have since been corrected. No children are said to be among the missing.

As one or more residents may have had visitors, the emergency services are not commenting on the number of potential casualties at this time.

The explosion happened Friday morning and police and fire brigade are at the scene. The medical emergency plan has been declared.

“We are now trying to find out who is still in that flat block,” Peter Van Gorp of the Turnhout police said in a first reaction.

Ten people live in the affected part of the building, according to the police.

The current assessment is that one victim was injured and taken to hospital. Another resident has been located unharmed under the rubble, but has not yet been released.

Belgium’s Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) expressed her sympathy following the tragedy.

“Even on the last day of the year, 2021 shows its most unpredictable and devastating side. My condolences to all those who have been affected,” she said on Twitter. “Much courage to all emergency services that are working with great expertise for the victims in Turnhout.”

Verlinden is currently abroad, but has had contact with Turnhout’s mayor Paul Van Miert (N-VA): “From this conversation it appeared that all services, and also those of the neighbouring municipalities, are providing the necessary support. In the meantime, we will have to wait and see.”

Police are asking people to stay away from the area so that emergency service personnel can do their jobs.

The city of Turnhout has set up an information line on 014/409.666 which anyone with questions can contact.

Last updated at 16:30 on 31 Dec 2021. This story is still breaking and this article will be updated as new information becomes available. 

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