Three persons were killed and several others injured after a huge explosion destroyed a building in Spanish capital Madrid.
Later officials confirmed that it was caused by a gas leak.
Mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida said that an 85-year-old woman and man died in the blast, which occurred at Toledo Street close to the emblematic Plaza Mayor just before 3 pm. on Wednesday.
Later in the day, a government delegate in Madrid, Jose Manuel Franco, confirmed that a third person had died, while another was “missing.” The missing person is understood to have been working on the building’s heating system when the explosion occurred.
Images from the scene showed the walls on the top four or five storeys of the residential building in the heart of the La Latina neighbourhood had been blown out, with debris littered far and wide.
Images broadcast on Spanish television showed cars destroyed by the force of the explosion and smoke billowing from the top floor of the six-storey building which housed local priests.
Hundreds of police and rescuers filled the streets around the building which the archdiocese said housed local priests who worked in the area.
“Please pray there are no victims,” tweeted the Virgin de la Paloma parish church, saying “one lay person has not been found”.
“These were the living quarters for the local parish priests. They are being treated by the ambulance crew and out of danger,” it said.
The building is located next door to an elderly care home, but no-one there was hurt, the head of the residence told Spanish public television.