Friday, 29 January 2010


This city in Belgium, 75 miles east of Brussels, was the scene of a tragic accident earlier this week. An old five-storey building collapsed following a gas explosion on Tuesday. The preceding weekend, people had complained of a smell of gas, but the fire service said nothing was wrong. Not so. At 2 am on Tuesday, an explosion occurred, and five hours later the entire building at 18 Rue Leopold crumbled to the ground. Today, the death toll rose to 12, after the remains of a young couple were found in the rubble. They had been in touch with the rescue services to pinpoint the location of a girl of 13, who was retrieved successfully. A fire subsequently ignited around their area, and contact was lost with the couple.

The houses in the area are poorly maintained, and the authorities were actually not certain how many people lived in the collapsed building. Twenty were injured, twelve are dead. The owner of the property was evasive about the number of his tenants, saying many would have been 'visiting'. Many old city centre buildings across Europe have been converted into so-called "Houses of Multiple Occupancy", that unscrupulous owners try to cram as many people as possible into, and do little in terms of maintenance. Whether this applied to 18 Rue Leopold in Liège remains the subject of a forensic examination.

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