At least eight people died and 62 were injured Tuesday in a powerful blast and fire that shook an apartment building in the Argentine city of Rosario, authorities said.

Rosario Mayor Monica Fein said 19 residents were missing from the building, which later collapsed.

Rescue teams continued to search the rubble.

The blast, which was heard at least 4 km away, was suspected to have been caused by a gas leak. The explosion caused serious damage to two neighbouring high-rise buildings.

Fire-fighters spent several hours extinguishing the blaze. In a series of spectacular rescues, trapped survivors were reached with ropes and ladders.

Residents told reporters that there had been gas leaks in the building for days.

Rosario, population 1.2 million, is 300 kilometres north of Buenos Aires.

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