Gas explosion rocks Polish ski resort

A large gas explosion caused a three-storey building in the Polish ski resort of Szczyrk in southern Poland to collapse on Wednesday, a local police spokesman said.

Nine people lived in the building; one of them was away at work, while the remaining residents are feared to have been buried under the rubble.

The explosion occurred around 19:00 local time. According to the spokesman of the Polish Gas Company PSG, the pipeline providing most of the city with gas was drilled through by an external company which had been hired for ground works. The accidental drill-through probably caused sparks igniting the gas which was followed by a powerful explosion.

The spokesman surmised that the explosion was neither caused by incorrect operation of the pipeline, nor the fault of the people living in the building.

At the moment, 36 fire brigade units are taking part in the rescue operation, trying to clear the rubble and hopefully find survivors. Currently, the help of rescue dogs is unavailable due to extremely dangerous conditions on site.

Two excavators have been brought to the site and the rescue operation is expected to continue throughout the night.

Szczyrk is one of Poland’s most popular ski resorts, with large numbers of tourists in town after the start of the skiing season.