Deadly explosion at commercial center leaves 10 dead, dozens more injured

A powerful explosion near the capital of the Dominican Republic has claimed the lives of 10 people and left dozens injured. The blast, which occurred at a bustling commercial center in San Cristobal, caused collapsed buildings, charred vehicles, and a raging fire that authorities are still trying to extinguish. President Luis Abinader visited the affected area to meet with survivors and families of the missing. The search for survivors continues to pose challenges for rescue teams.

At least 10 people were killed and over 50 were injured in the explosion. About 36 of those injured victims are currently being hospitalized. Additionally, 11 people who were present at the time of the explosion are currently unaccounted for.

Access to the epicenter of the explosion, referred to as “ground zero,” remains restricted due to the ongoing fire. The Health Minister, Daniel Rivera, emphasized the difficulty in reaching the affected area as a result of the blaze.

Amidst the chaos and devastation, families anxiously wait for news of their missing loved ones. Estefani Alcántara, whose family was shopping at the time of the explosion, expressed her distress as her aunt remains unaccounted for. The emergency telephone system reported that the explosion originated from a bakery in the city’s center, known as the “Old Marketplace,” where people gather to purchase various goods. The fire quickly spread to neighboring stores, including a hardware store and a furniture store.

President Abinader assured the affected community that the government is doing everything possible to investigate the situation and locate the 11 missing individuals. He also announced plans to establish two mobile hospitals to provide further medical assistance, including psychological services. Meanwhile, Minister Santos confirmed that an investigation would be launched to determine if the business where the explosion occurred was operating in compliance with regulations.

As the city center remains engulfed in smoke, Health Minister Rivera urged residents to wear face masks due to the potential chemical contamination. Rivera and other officials are planning to go door-to-door to distribute masks and assess any respiratory or skin problems. The first 24 hours following the explosion are crucial, as injuries range from burns and fractures to respiratory issues.