Death toll in Madrid building blast rises to four

Madrid (AFP) –


The toll from a powerful explosion caused by a gas leak that gutted a building in a residential part of Madrid rose to four on Thursday after a priest died from his injuries.

The 36-year-old, who was ordained a priest last June, was one of the 11 people who were injured during Wednesday's blast in the La Latina district.

He died in hospital in the early hours of Thursday, the Madrid archdiocese said in a statement.

The building belonging to the Church of the Virgin de la Paloma and San Pedro el Real located next-door, was completely destroyed in the blast.

Two men who were walking in the street and a repairman who was fixing the building's boiler on the fifth floor when the blast occurred also died.

Officials had originally reported that an 85-year-old woman had died but they later said the victim was a man.

A man who was initially reported as missing was later confirmed to be the repairman who died in the blast, a father of four, government representative Jose Manuel Franco told radio Cadena Ser.

Neighbours reported a strong smell of gas in the minutes before the blast, he added.

Despite the force of the explosion, no one was hurt in the elderly care home next door, nor in an adjacent school where tonnes of debris fell into the playground while the children were in class.

At least 15 cars were destroyed in the area.