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Updated: January 27, 2010 17:17 IST

Belgium apartment building collapses after blast

AP
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Firemen clear debris around a collapsed building in Liege, in Belgium, on Wednesday. A five-storey apartment building collapsed following an explosion early Wednesday that injured at least 20 people, two of them critically, officials said. Mayor Willy Demeyer said several people were trapped in the rubble and that firemen have located at least two who were still alive. It was unclear how the collapse of the facade affected the fate of those still buried. Photo: AP.
Firemen clear debris around a collapsed building in Liege, in Belgium, on Wednesday. A five-storey apartment building collapsed following an explosion early Wednesday that injured at least 20 people, two of them critically, officials said. Mayor Willy Demeyer said several people were trapped in the rubble and that firemen have located at least two who were still alive. It was unclear how the collapse of the facade affected the fate of those still buried. Photo: AP.

A five-storey apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion early Wednesday, injuring at least 20 people and leaving at least two caught under the rubble, officials said.

It remained unclear whether those trapped in the debris of the century-old building were still alive, officials said.

Firefighters heard at least two different voices under the rubble when they looked for survivors from the 2 a.m. (0100 GMT) blast when the ornate facade of the building collapsed at dawn.

“It is likely there was a gas explosion,” Mayor Willy Demeyer said. There was a gas alert in the building over the weekend but no leak was discovered, he said.

Immediately after the blast, a fire raged through the building and thick smoke billowed up into the air from the top windows.

The blast shattered windows in the city hall, 100 meters (yards) away and spread debris and dust throughout the adjacent streets in downtown Liege.

“It was such a noise that we thought the explosion happened inside the City Hall, even though the actual explosion was more than one hundred meters away, so the whole neighbourhood was woken up and devastated,” said Mr. Demeyer.

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