A high-ranking Civil Defense official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the death toll from a massive explosion that occurred in the Dominican Republic earlier this week has risen to 25, and firemen are still working to put out the burning inferno.
The official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said there are still 10 people missing because forensic investigators are still attempting to identify whether the extra bodies discovered match those who are missing.
The building where the explosion took place Monday in a bakery in the city of San Cristobal, which is located just west of the capital of Santo Domingo, is still partially inaccessible to emergency personnel.
Angry and frustrated loved ones have been pacing in front of hospitals and cemeteries, complaining that no one has been giving them information.
Authorities are currently looking into what might have caused the explosion and have vowed to take enforcement action against any companies that may have been breaking the law.
The minister of industry and trade, Ito Bisonó, told reporters that authorities have already found no tanks of any kind in the region and that he is waiting for them to look into what happened. On the explosion, he commented, “It was of great magnitude.”
In San Cristobal’s cathedral, where a ceremony for the deceased was held on Wednesday, Bisonó spoke to a packed house of mourners who were mostly dressed in white.
Director of the Emergency Operations Center Juan Manuel Méndez stated during a news conference late on Tuesday that if an unnamed factory was operating unlawfully, as some locals have claimed, the inquiry would reveal that.
The investigation will decide whether or not there is any sort of responsibility, he said. “We’re going to file a lawsuit.”
The explosion, which took place in a busy business area in the middle of the city and damaged nine additional buildings in addition to destroying four of them, injured at least 59 people.
More than 30 patients, some of whom have burns, breathing issues, and fractures, are still in the hospital. Smoke inhalation symptoms were also addressed by two firefighters.
A total of 500 people, including rescuers and authorities, and more than 30 ambulances, reacted to the situation. Health officials advised visitors to wear face masks because toxic fumes were still lingering over the explosion scene.
Another explosion occurred in San Cristobal, the city where dictator Rafael Trujillo was born, over 23 years ago.
In October 2000, an explosion at an ammunition storage facility resulted in at least two fatalities, more than twenty-four injuries, and the evacuation of thousands of people by the authorities.