At least four people were killed in a huge explosion at a building in downtown Madrid on Wednesday.
The building belongs to the nearby La Paloma Catholic Parish and hosted the offices and apartments for some of its priests, Madrid Archbishop Carlos Osoro told Spanish public broadcaster, TVE.
The Spanish government’s representative for the Madrid region, José Manuel Franco, confirmed three casualties and the Catholic parish that owned the damaged building said the fourth victim was an electrician, a father of four, who had initially been considered missing.
The electrician was part of a team of workmen who were repairing the building’s boiler at the time of the blast.
Another 10 people were injured.
Images from the scene showed the walls on the top four or five stories of the residential building in the heart of the La Latina neighbourhood had been blown out, with vast quantities of debris spreading far and wide.
Despite the force of the blast, no one was hurt in the elderly care home next door, nor in an adjacent school where tonnes of rubble fell into the playground while the children were in lessons, city officials said.
Wednesday was the first day that schools reopened after a nine-day closure due to the heaviest snowfall in Madrid in 50 years.
“This could have been a massive tragedy,” said Martinez-Almeida.
Along the street, at least 15 cars were badly damaged by the force of the explosion, which gutted most of the six-story residential building.
“I was just leaving a nearby clinic when I heard a very big explosion, it was so big I thought it was a bomb,” Valentin Moreno, a 48-year-old salesman, told AFP.
“There were people running and a lot of smoke and when I got there, I saw the building’s facade had been completely destroyed.”
Story compiled with assistance from wire reports