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At least 3 deaths confirmed after huge blast rocks Madrid, footage shows smoke and debris-littered streets

At least 3 deaths confirmed after huge blast rocks Madrid, footage shows smoke and debris-littered streets
An explosion struck central Madrid on Wednesday, killing at least three people, with dramatic images from the scene showing a building ripped apart and debris covering the street below.

José Manuel Franco, the socialist PSOE party leader in Madrid, confirmed that the explosion was caused by a gas leak and that three people had died, including an 85-year-old woman who had been walking down the street at the time. He said one person remained unaccounted for.

Photos and videos filmed by shocked onlookers show cars destroyed by the blast and smoke billowing from the upper floor of a building. The incident occurred shortly before 3pm local time.

A local journalist said a “terrible” explosion had occurred in Calle Toledo, a street in a downtown area of the Spanish capital. The street has been cordoned off by first responders.

A spokesperson for the City Council of Madrid confirmed that firefighters, police and civil protection units are responding to the incident. Eight crews of firefighters have been dispatched to the area, according to local news site, TeleMadrid.

A school is reported to have been badly damaged by the explosion, and the smoke seen in videos filmed on the street is said to be coming from a nursing home next door to the building where the blast took place.

The building worst affected by the explosion reportedly belongs to the Catholic archbishop of Madrid.

Local residents, including a number of elderly people from the nursing home, are being evacuated from the area, with police reportedly advising people to leave in case there are further explosions.

The site of the explosion is not far from Puerta de Toledo, one of the city’s gates and a popular tourist attraction.

In a statement, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described the explosion as “terrible,” adding that he hoped it would not result in victims to mourn.

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