Powerful blast rocks central Prague

  • 29 April 2013
  • From the section Europe

A large explosion has damaged a building in the centre of the Czech capital Prague.

The area around the scene in Divadelni St was sealed off by police. At least 35 people were hurt, emergency services say, one seriously.

Police say that the blast, which blew the windows out of nearby buildings, was most likely caused by a gas leak.

A strong smell of gas was reported before and after the blast by people in the area, in Prague's Old Town.

The site of the explosion is close to the Vltava river, and near the country's National Theatre.

Neighbouring buildings were evacuated and a two-kilometre stretch of the embankment was cordoned off, Czech media say.

A police spokesman said 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, Reuters news agency reports.

Early reports suggested people might be trapped in the rubble, but the city's police chief later told Czech radio that rescuers no longer believed that was the case.

Students were evacuated from a nearby film school and the social sciences faculty of the city's Charles University, local media said.

"We heard a strong explosion and we felt the building tremble and the windows shake," eyewitness Jaroslav Faltus told the BBC.

Emergency services at the scene of the blast
The blast happened at around 10:00 (08:00 GMT) on Monday in Prague's historic centre
People look on as emergency services attend the scene
Emergency services cordoned off a wide area around the blast
Rescue workers help a woman injured in the blast
Many of the injured had suffered wounds from broken glass
Satellite image of blast location