Suspected gas explosion flattens commercial area in Rio de Janeiro

A commercial area in Rio de Janeiro is destroyed by an explosion suspected to have resulted from a leak in gas canisters stored in a pizzeria.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (OCTOBER 19, 2015) (REUTERS) – A suspected gas explosion in a pizzeria in northern Rio de Janeiro damaged 40 buildings early Monday (October 19) morning and injured eight people, including one child, Brazil’s Under-Secretary of Civil Defence informed.

According to witnesses, the explosion took place at the Dell’Arco pizzeria. Several other commercial establishments in the area were completely destroyed.

Windows and roofs of houses and apartment blocks in the area were broken, and the glass windows of a bank situated 100 metres (328 feet) from the restaurant were completely shattered.

Rescue workers were busy in the area since the early hours of morning, searching for any further victims amid the rubble where smoke continued to escape around midday (1400 G.M.T.).

The Fire Service said it was unlikely more victims would be found, but that the rescue mission would last two to three days.

Seven people, including a nine-year-old girl were taken to a local public hospital, and one other victim was attended to at the scene of the accident.

Amid the losses, local residents celebrated the fact that no lives had been taken.

“It is very painful because a lot of friends have lost everything, absolutely everything. Thank God no one was killed, some people were taken to hospital but they are ok, we have to be grateful for that, at least nobody died,” said local resident, Maria de Conceicao.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere remained tense.

“I heard a bang and I thought it was thunder, I thought, ‘Oh heavens a storm is coming’. I was very scared. Then I went to the door and I heard about this tragedy that just happened, and I was terrified, as is everyone,” said Elianete Barbosa.

Investigations are underway into the case of the explosion, which is suspected to have resulted from a gas leak from canisters stored in the back of the restaurant.

The state-wide gas provider CEG of the Gas Natural Fenosa group confirmed in a statement however it did not have a contract providing piped gas to the pizzeria in question, which Rio Mayor, Eduardo Paes, said raised suspicions the explosion originated from gas canisters.