By Julian Weber and Christine Bähr, dpa
BOCHUM – One person was killed when a house in the western German city of Bochum collapsed following an explosion, police said on Wednesday.
Rescue services found the woman’s body after searching the rubble for several hours. Police suspect the victim to be the 61-year-old owner of the house who had been reported missing.
The victim’s identity could only be confirmed once the body underwent a full medical examination, a spokesperson said.
Emergency services did not expect to find any more victims under the rubble, fire brigade chief Simon Heußen said after the search and clearance work at the location with rescue dogs and bulldozers.
The apartment building in Bochum’s Linden neighbourhood completely collapsed following a suspected gas leak explosion on Tuesday evening. Images show the two-and-a-half-storey building reduced to a pile of rubble, with the street littered with stones.
Several neighbours alerted the emergency services and reported having heard a loud bang. Fifteen people were then evacuated from six other houses in the area as 160 emergency personnel were deployed to the scene.
Apart from the owner, two other people lived in the house, according to the police. One of them was able to free himself from the debris and was taken to hospital with minor injuries. The third person was not at home at the time of the incident, police said.
The reason for the suspected explosion was initially unclear. According to the municipal utility, the building had not been connected to the gas grid, said Heußen. However gas was detected in the sewer and in nearby buildings, therefore a gas leak is assumed to have occurred there, according to the fire brigade chief.