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Elderly British woman killed as gas explosion rips apart flat in Torre del Mar

The state of the apartment after the explosion.
The state of the apartment after the explosion. / SUR
  • The victim’s husband, 89, was taken to the Axarquía hospital, but discharged later that day with minor injuries

An elderly woman died and her husband, 89, was injured in a gas explosion in an apartment in Torre del Mar at around 7.15 am on Wednesday morning.

The flat has been the home of a British couple for several years. According to neighbours, the woman had a disability and hadn’t been seen outside their home for some time.

When they arrived at the scene of the explosion, firefighters found the injured man among the rubble. He was rushed to the Axarquía hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and discharged later that day.

The apartment building seen from the street.

The apartment building seen from the street. / SUR

The rescue team could do nothing to save the life of the elderly woman, who was in bed when the explosion occurred. It appears that she died instantly.

Also injured by the explosion was a 26-year-old woman who was taken to hospital to treat minor injuries, according to the emergency services.

The blast tore down all the walls within the couple’s second-floor apartment and even left a hole in the living room floor. Significant damage was caused to the rest of the four-storey building in Calle Cañaveral, while flying rubble affected neighbouring houses and at least eight cars parked in the street outside.

The rest of the apartments in the building were evacuated, and residents are not expected to be able to return to their homes for some time, as a technical study will be required to assess the safety of the building.

José Manuel García, 72, lives in the flat below the British couple and was in bed when the explosion shook the building.

“I woke up and didn’t know what was going on. I could just see dust and rubble: a piece fell on my leg. My home didn’t have walls, and I couldn’t even see them. I got up and dressed as I went outside. I could just see my flat’s roof beams. I couldn’t open the door because of the rubble,” he said.

inside the apartment.

inside the apartment. / SUR

José Manuel added that he remembered another explosion, 30 years ago, in a fruit shop across the road. “That explosion broke my front door in half and the bikes I had on the terrace flew off,” he said.

Manuela lives on the first floor. “I heard a really loud explosion. I didn’t understand anything. The corridor outside was all rubble and the railings had been blown away. The first thing I thought of was to go outside,” she said.

The neighbour added that the saw the dead woman’s husband walking in the rubbish with a wound on his head. The firefighters found him sitting on a chair. They believe a pillar could have protected him.

Faulty appliance

The provincial consortium of firefighters (CPB) has said that everything points to the explosion being due to a combustion problem with a domestic appliance (possibly caused by a faulty gas pipe) in the property the British couple lived in.

The Scientific Police have taken charge of the investigation. It appears that the combustion problem caused a leak and gas could have been building up inside the property without the couple realising. Switching on any appliance on Wednesday morning could have sparked the explosion.