SWEDEN: Sixteen people have been injured, including four with critical injuries — after an explosion led to a large fire on Tuesday in an apartment building in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
The blast happened at 4:45 a.m. local time, the immediate cause of which is unclear. Swedish police are investigating whether an explosive device was placed at the scene.
“The fire department has confirmed that there is no gas in that building, so we have ruled out a gas leak for the moment,” said Stefan Gustafsson, a spokesman for Sweden’s western regional police.
“There is no natural explanation for the explosion,” Gustafsson said.
In total, 16 people have been sent to hospital, with the possibility that “more people will be brought in, we don’t know yet,” a press officer at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg told CNN. Fire fighters pulled people from the building while other residents used tied sheets to lower themselves from balconies as grey smoke billowed out of stairwells and windows.
Sweden has faced rising gang crime and gun violence in recent years, with rival groups using explosives and fire arms to settle scores. Police have added officers, and laws have been tightened, to try to tackle the gangs.
In 2019, 257 attacks involving explosives were reported in the Nordic country, according to data from the Swedish national council for crime prevention.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said it was too early to say exactly what had happened in Gothenburg but the whole of Swedish society would respond if criminals were behind the explosion.
“As a society we will do everything possible to fight gang crime,” he told a news conference. “People should be able to feel safe.”
Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg told a news conference that they believed a device had “probably” been placed at the site of the blast.
Anja Almen, who lives in the stricken apartment building, said she heard a commotion from the street just after 5:00 a.m. — around 15 minutes after the explosion.
“I went out on the balcony and I was shocked. There was smoke everywhere, from every stairwell,” she said by phone from a nearby church to which she and other tenants were evacuated.