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Explosion In Central Prague Injures At Least 40

posted 29 Apr 2013, 06:26 by Mpelembe   [ updated 29 Apr 2013, 06:27 ]

An explosion, probably caused by gas, has injured as many as 40 people in central Prague.

PRAGUECZECH REPUBLIC (APRIL 29, 2013)(REUTERS) - An explosion in central Prague on Monday (April 29), probably caused by gas, injured as many as 40 people, officials said, and neighbouring buildings - including the National Theatre - had to be evacuated.

The explosion, in a building facing the Vltava river just a few dozen yards (metres) from the 19th-century theatre, was heard as far away as Prague Castle about a mile (1.6 km) away.

A police spokesman said the blast was probably caused by gas and that there had been about 15 people in the building, which included an office of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and an art gallery.

An emergency services spokeswoman said some people may have been trapped in the building, which belongs to the Czech Air Navigation Services company.

A Reuters witness at the site saw about a dozen people being treated by emergency services.

"It was probably gas, but I don't know anything else. There was nothing to see, dust was everywhere," said Anton Madison, who was working nearby on reconstruction at the National Theatre.

A pensioner living nearby said she had had a lucky escape.

"At half past nine, I was sitting quietly in my flat, making coffee. Then there was an incredible explosion. I thought the building would collapse on me. I looked out of the window, and there was a huge cloud and only dust everywhere. I live on the second floor and my flat was not destroyed, but one floor down the Kurovsky family had all their windows broken," said Venceslava Sehnoutkova.

The blast blew out some of the windows in neighbouring buildings, includingPrague's landmark Cafe Slavia.

The building where the blast occurred also includes the Prague FAMU film school and the social sciences faculty of the Charles University.

A fire department spokeswoman said there were no reports of fatalities. Several streets around the site were cordoned off by police.