The damage to the building, which police were unable to access on Tuesday, is worse than expected
Police in the Swedish city of Gothenburg are investigating whether the blast which hospitalised 16 people on Tuesday was caused by an explosive device.
Early yesterday morning an explosion in a residential building caused a serious fire that led to the evacuation of the entire building.
Firefighters worked through the day and night to put out the fire and secure the building. The entire building complex was evacuated and around 100 people spent the night in a hotel, unsure of when they will be allowed back into their homes.
According to the police, the explosion was most likely caused by an explosive device causing a fire that spread quickly through the building. The damage to the building was worse than previously anticipated, with cracks running across the walls and ceilings due to the pressure of the explosion. According to public service broadcaster SVT, 16 people were taken to hospital, 4 of which were in a critical condition. One of them is still being treated in intensive care.
Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg said: ‘What we think is that it’s a bomb that has exploded in that building. Otherwise it’s a natural cause – but we don’t know yet. These are the two main [investigative] streams we are working on’.
The technical investigation was initially delayed as it was not safe enough for the police to access the building on Tuesday.
A few months ago, a policeman in service was shot on the streets of another area of Gothenburg and there have been several fatal shootings and explosions in different parts of Sweden. Many have speculated that this incident could be related to gang violence. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and the interior minister Mikael Damberg held a press conference yesterday afternoon during which many questions were asked about overall safety in Sweden and what was being done to combat organised crime.
Police spokesman Fuxborg said that they currently do not know if this incident is related to gang violence, but it is a possibility there are exploring: ‘We have started looking into who lives in this building, were there any special guests visiting someone who lives there? Could he or she be the target of what happened? We don’t know yet’. The police are also looking through CCTV footage from the street and will be analysing it to see if there was anything suspicious happening that night.
Just outside the cordoned off area, a small crowed of locals gathered. Many expressed concerns about what had happened, whilst the smell of burning plastic continued to fill the air. Local resident Monica O. lives right across the street from where the incident happened: ‘I heard two really hard bangs. I waited a bit as I thought it was fireworks or something. Finally, I went to the balcony, and it was a devastating scene. I saw the entrance opposite my balcony just blown away and then many fire trucks and police cars came. There was a lot of thick smoke coming out from 4 or 5 windows on different levels. I saw some people going to the rescue centre with no shoes and trembling. It was terrible, like a movie scene.’
According to some witnesses, the fire prompted some people to jump out of their windows to escape the flames.
The police are continuing with their investigation and are expected to give further updates on the cause of the blast in the coming days.