Jerusalem: Parents, son killed in gas explosion
Gas leak causes massive explosion in Jerusalem residential building; killing couple, toddler killed, at least 15 more injured. Gas technician arrested after being alerted to building hours before blast, telling concerned neighbors: 'Everything will be fine'
A couple and their son, a 3-year-old toddler, were killed in an explosion that occurred late Sunday night in an apartment in Jerusalem, apparently caused by a gas leak in the third floor of the building.
Police have arrested a gas technician who was called to the building Sunday to attend to a gas related issue, but failed to complete the job, promising to return the next morning. Though cautious not blame the man directly, fire forces claim there is little doubt the blast was a result of negligence.
An initial search found the life-less bodies of a man and a woman in their thirties, and the toddler son's death was pronounced later on at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center. At least 15 additional people were injured in the event, including one woman who was seriously injured. It is feared the building may collapse.
Jerusalem District Police have begun investigating the event and have already apprehended a gas technician who was called to the building Sunday by the neighbors in the apartment adjacent to the family.
Inna Ivanov, who was wounded in the blast and was rescued from the building by her grandson, a police volunteer, said "at 1 am there was a blast. We didn't understand what, suddenly the winds, doors and walls blew off. We ran to stairwell and then MDA ambulances and the police arrived and we learned that it was a blast caused by a gas leak in the adjacent building. It was a huge blast, it felt like a bomb went off."
According to neighbor, the Super Gas technician began to work but stopped mid-way. He allegedly told the neighbors he temporarily solved the problem and would return Monday morning to complete the work.
'Everything will be fine'
Head of Jerusalem's firefighter services, Fire-Chief Shahar Ayalon said "it is hard to say what the origin of the blast was. We will attempt recreate the event to better learn what happened. The neighbors said that they alerted a gas technician. It is unclear what he exactly did, but it is clear there was negligence."
Meir Kadosh, who called the technician, explained that the building complex's heating is built on gas – which is uncommon in Israel – and every new tenant in the 65-unit strong building must privately tap into the system, creating a patch work of connections to the central gas system.
"A little more than a year ago we sent a letter to the gas company (Super Gas), warning that the gas-pipe situation was criminally neglected. The only answer we got was 'everything will be fine.' Every once and a while there is a strong gas smell, and you can only badger them so much.
"My daughter returned home and smelt gas. We called a technician who arrived at quarter of eight and said he would return tomorrow, and in the meantime he said 'everything would be fine.' At 1 am there was a blast."
Among those wounded were a 60-year-old man who was trapped under the wreckages and suffered moderate wounds, a 50-year-old woman who suffered burns to the face, a 80-year-old man and a young girl of twelve who sustained head wounds.
The brother of the man killed arrived at the scene and police were forced to inform him of the untimely death of his brother, sister-in-law and young nephew.
"The explosion shook all of southern Jerusalem," concerned residents in the area testified. Police are examining whether the incident was caused by negligence.
The explosion caused extensive damage to a three-story building and additional constructions in the area.
A vehicle nearby was also damaged by the event. Magen David Adom emergency services paramedics began searching the site and evacuated 15 people from the scene, including one woman who was seriously injured and eight who were lightly injured who were taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, and five other people who were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center.