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Two Dead after Explosion Destroys Buildings in Belgium



An aerial view shows the Paardenmarkt area in Antwerp on January 16, 2018 after several buildings collapsed following an explosion. – Photo Eric Lalmand

BRUSSELS – Rescue services have recovered the bodies of two victims from the rubble of three adjacent houses in Belgium’s northern port town of Antwerp after an explosion ripped through them.

Fourteen people were hospitalized after they were injured in the blast late Monday, including seven rescued from under the rubble. The two bodies were found on Tuesday.

Antwerp police had quickly announced that the blast was not part of a terror attack.

At least one building totally collapsed. Rescue workers were still going through the debris early Tuesday, although they had no indication that there were more victims. Investigations into the cause of the blast would only start after the search was completed, authorities said.

Belgium’s French-language broadcaster RTBF reported that a gas leak was suspected as the cause of the blast at around 21:30 (20:30 GMT) on Monday, though it had yet to be confirmed.

Belgium has been on a high state of alert since 16 people were killed in suicide bombings in the capital Brussels in March 2016.

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