Four killed as gas explosion rips through Madrid building

At least four people have been killed after a powerful gas explosion tore through a residential building in central Madrid on Wednesday.

The blast ripped the facade off the front of the building - which stands between a school and a nursing home in the Spanish capital.

All students and staff were inside the school buildings at the time of the blast.

Images and footage on social media showed smoke coming out from the six-storey building and rubble scattered in Toledo Street, where repairs were being done to a gas boiler.

Firefighters work next to a damaged building in the centre of Spain’s capital Credit: Manu Fernandez/AP

At least 11 people were injured in the blast, one seriously, the Madrid emergency service said in a tweet.

The Spanish government’s representative for the Madrid region, Jose 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 was working on the boiler and had initially been considered missing.

A police spokesman on the ground told reporters that firefighters were trying to put out a small fire inside the damaged building before they could bring in search dogs and special rescue teams to look for any possible survivors.

Emergency crews were seen helping people on the ground in footage shared by the Spanish broadcaster TVE.

The blast took the facade off the front of the building. Credit: AP

An Associated Press reporter saw emergency workers carry two bodies away from the area, one that firefighters covered with a blue blanket and another shrouded in reflective emergency sheeting.

Emy Lee Grau, an area resident who was watching television in a building across the street, said that the moment of the blast was “terrifying”.

“Everything shook, it felt like the roof was falling on us.

“We were terrified when we saw the amount of smoke coming out of the church’s building,” said the 20-year-old Madrid resident.

Police officers cordon off Toledo Street following an explosion in central Madrid Credit: Bernat Armangue/AP

Mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida confirmed a nearby nursing home was evacuated although no injuries were initially reported among the residents.

The home’s 55 residents were initially taken to a hotel across the street and were later sent to other care homes, officials said.

Mr Martinez Almeida also said that some mild damage had been identified in a nearby school.

A resident living nearby, Leire Reparaz, said she heard the explosion and was not immediately sure where it was coming 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 said.