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Society

Powerful Blast Shakes Whole Office Block in Downtown Athens

ATHENS – An explosion left three people injured and seriously damaged an office building while shattering nearby storefronts in a busy part of central Athens early Wednesday.

Fire department officials said a 77-year-old man was hospitalized with burns. Two others received medical attention for smoke inhalation.

It happened at 6:45 a.m. at a building under renovation on Syngrou Avenue near the Temple of Olympian Zeus and damaged several nearby storefronts but the normally busy streets were almost empty because businesses and public offices were closed in the aftermath of a snow storm.

Firefighters use aerial ladders to look for anyone possibly trapped inside damaged buildings following an explosion in central Athens, on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Derek Gatopoulos)

The cause of the blast was being investigated. “We don’t know what caused it yet, there is extended material damage, and a fire started,” a fire brigade official told Skai TV.

It was loud enough to be heard around the capital and videos showed the windows and facades of buildings on the other side of the street had also been destroyed by the blast.

Greek media later cited the fire department saying that the probable cause of the explosion was a gas leak and police moved to cordon off the area and keep people 150 meters (492 feet) away, said Germany’s state broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which said rescue crews scoured the structure.

Attica Region building suffers damage from blast

The building that houses the services of the Attica Region, at 15-17 Syggrou Ave., suffered extensive damage from the strong explosion that occurred early on Wednesday, in the neighbouring building. The shock wave shattered windows and caused false ceilings to fall.

The staff of the Region has been mobilised in order to immediately repair the damage so that the services housed in the building can operate.

In a statement, the governor of Attica, Giorgos Patoulis, stressed: “Despite the extensive damage caused to the building, fortunately, there were no injuries as the explosion occurred early in the morning.”

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