At least two people have died after a seven-storey building in Madrid was partially destroyed by an explosion, the mayor of Spain’s capital has said.
Several floors of the building on the capital’s Toledo Street have been affected by the blast, that ripped through the building shortly after 2:30 p.m. local time.
A local vicar told Telemadrid broadcaster that the building belonged to church and that they were trying to find a volunteer in the building.
‘The priests who live on the fifth and sixth floors are fine. We are trying to locate a volunteer who works with us,’ the vicar general told the broadcaster.
Emergency crews could be seen aiding several people on the ground in video aired by Spain’s public broadcaster. There were no immediate reports of deaths.
A reporter for TVE said several had been injured, without giving details. A witness told Telemadrid that there was at least one person trapped inside.
The cause has not yet been revealed although initial reports said it could be a gas explosion.
The building is understood to be next to a school, but emergency services could not immediately confirm if there had been any injuries.
According to TVE, the school was empty because classes had not resumed yet following a record snowfall in the Spanish capital on Jan. 9.
A police spokeswoman said the area was being evacuated but could not confirm the source of the explosion.
La Sexta TV quoted government sources saying it may have been a gas leak. Officials could not immediately confirm.
Madrid’s emergency services said rescue teams, firefighters and police are working in a central area of the Spanish capital following the explosion that witnesses described as ‘extremely loud.’
Videos and images shared on social media showed a tower of smoke coming out from a building and rubble scattered in a central street of Madrid.
Leire Reparaz, who lives near the Puerto de Toledo, a local landmark, told The Associated Press that she heard a loud explosion.
‘We didn’t know where the sound came from. We all thought it was from the school. We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and lots of grey smoke,’ the 24-year-old Madrid resident said.
It is believed that the building housed offices and meeting rooms.