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Deadly explosion shakes town of Liege

At least nine people were killed and 21 others were injured when an explosion in the Belgian town of Liege caused a building to collapse. Authorities have warned that the death toll could rise.


AFP - The death toll in the collapse of an apartment block in the Belgian town of Liege could rise from nine, officials warned Thursday, as rescue work was halted over safety concerns.

"In all, around a dozen families have come forward" fearing for their loved ones, said Pierre Reuter, a spokesman for the local authorities.

"It's difficult to know exactly how many people to look for. There were a lot of young people. Were they all there, were they sleeping with friends, or on the contrary did they have people staying over?" he said.

The six-storey building collapsed early Wednesday, hours after an explosion apparently caused by domestic gas devasted it and damaged others in the area, resulting in the deaths of nine people and injuring 21, three of them badly.

Belgian media reported that up to four people were still missing.

A 13-year-old girl was pulled alive from the rubble on Wednesday afternoon.

Around 100 people were given shelter after leaving their damaged homes.

The search for survivors was called off at 7:00 am (0600 GMT) Thursday amid concern that walls of neighbouring building presented a danger of collapse, police said.

Efforts had not resumed by midday, with emergency workers awaiting equipment to help secure the site.

The cause of the explosion has still not been determined. A resident of the building had reported smelling gas over the weekend, but firefighters and gas company workers sent to check found nothing out of the ordinary.

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