A natural gas explosion wrecked a tall apartment building in the Argentine city of Rosario on Tuesday, killing at least eight people, injuring 60 and causing officials to evacuate much of the downtown. Officials said 19 people were unaccounted for.

Dozens of people were trapped for a time in the upper floors of the burning building as a plume of smoke billowed up over the country’s third-largest city.

The building’s front and back facades were ripped open, exposing the shattered remains of apartments inside.

 
Blast: The building and its surrounding area were totally wiped out in the explosion

Blast: The building and its surrounding area were totally wiped out in the explosion

 

 
Victims: Nine were killed in the explosion while many are still unaccounted for

Victims: Nine were killed in the explosion while many are still unaccounted for

 

Firefighters working from above and below pulled people out of windows and off balconies as the bottom floors burned.

The explosion damaged other buildings for blocks around, and fearing a collapse, police closed buildings and schools in a five-block radius.

Rosario Mayor Monica Fein confirmed the death toll and said the blast was likely caused by a gas leak. Fein said 19 people were on a list of missing.

 
Dramatic images of Argentina apartment building explosion which killed nine - and a further nineteen residents are still missing

Terror: Many residents on the higher floors were left stranded desperately waiting to be rescued

 

 
Missing: 19 residents are still unaccounted for in the area following the natural gas explosion

Missing: 19 residents are still unaccounted for in the area following the natural gas explosion

 
Buildings were damaged for several blocks surrounding the blast, which sent bricks and glass and cement crashing onto the street

Buildings were damaged for several blocks surrounding the blast, which sent bricks and glass and cement crashing onto the street

 

 

‘We’re working with our best teams and continue looking under rubble,’ Fein said. ‘We have information that shows that this was clearly an issue with the gas.’

Some survivors were outraged and were shown on local television venting their anger on the streets.

They said they reported a gas leak about 40 minutes before the blast, which happened at 9:30 a.m., but said their warning calls went unanswered.

Rescue workers transport a body wrapped in a blanket down a ladder from a destroyed building

Rescue workers transport a body wrapped in a blanket down a ladder from a destroyed building.

 
The blast bent steel balconies and ripped brick facades off the front and back of the the 10-story block
The blast bent steel balconies and ripped brick facades off the front and back of the the 10-story block
 

The blast bent steel balconies and ripped brick facades off the front and back of the the 10-story block

Buildings were damaged for several blocks surrounding the blast, which sent bricks and glass and cement crashing onto the street.

Eleven schools were evacuated, and several shops and other apartment buildings were damaged.

 
The blast happened at about 9.30am. Firefighters said it took three hours to put out the fires

The blast happened at about 9.30am. Firefighters said it took three hours to put out the fires.

 

 

 

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