Up to 20 people were injured when an explosion in Gothenburg ignited an apartment building in a central residential area.
A powerful explosion has shaken an apartment building in the city of Gothenburg, caused several fires, injured up to 20 people and forced the evacuation of hundreds.
The explosion took place just before 05.00 (03:00 GMT) on Tuesday in the district of Annedal in Sweden’s second largest city. Flames spread to several apartments, and the fire brigade’s crews were still working to extinguish the flames in the middle of the morning.
Jon Pile, operations manager at the local rescue service, told reporters that it appeared as if the explosion took place in the building’s courtyard, where the gate was blown away. He added that some people jumped out of the windows to escape.
Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg said that the cause of the explosion is not yet known, but he told TV4 that investigators believe that nasty games may have been involved. They are investigating whether any tenants may have been targeted, he said.
“We suspect that someone may have placed something that has exploded,” said Fuxborg.
“The whole apartment vibrated”
Sahlgrenska University Hospital’s spokesperson Ingrid Frederiksson said that 16 people were taken to Gothenburg’s main hospital. Four people – three elderly women and a man in his 50s – were treated for serious injuries, she said. Some with minor injuries were treated on the spot.
Byggnadsbo Lars Hulten told the daily newspaper Goteborgs-Tidningen that the sound of the explosion woke him up.
“It was probably the loudest thing I heard. The whole apartment vibrated. The bed vibrated, he said.
Hulten said he saw desperate people “hanging from balconies and climbing over balconies. There was one who fell. It was very dramatic and a very fast course of fire and smoke “.
Another witness, Lars-Gunnar Wolmesjo, told the newspaper Expressen that he also saw people on their balconies and “some climbed down, some jumped and some had to wait for the firefighters to pick them up with a ladder.”
“Crime can not be ruled out”
The explosion comes in the midst of increased violence between organized criminal gangs in the Scandinavian nation.
On June 30, a police officer was shot and killed in Gothenburg. A 17-year-old suspect has since been arrested.
Earlier this year, the National Council for Crime Prevention said that Sweden was the only European country where fatal shootings have increased significantly since 2000, mainly due to violent gangs.
In 2019, a powerful explosion hit two adjacent apartment buildings in Linköping’s southern city, 25 people were injured and more than 100 apartments were damaged. Police believe that a fight between opposing criminal gangs was behind the explosion. No arrests have been made.
On Tuesday, the Swedish media immediately focused on the possibility that the explosion in Gothenburg could be related to warring gangs, but Prime Minister Stefan Lofven repeatedly refused to speculate on a motive.
“We do not want to speculate on what this is. It is too early to draw conclusions. We do not know what the motive is. We know nothing, says Lofven.
“We all want to know more. We want to understand what happened and what was the cause of this explosion, but it is clear that crime can not be ruled out, says Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg at the same press conference with Lofven.