An explosion at a DIY chain store in Romania injures at least 15 people, 4 seriously

In this photo released by Romanian Emergency Services (ISU Botosani), firefighters work at the scene of an explosion at a chain DIY store in Botosani, Romania, Friday, June 7, 2024. An explosion at a chain DIY store in northwest Romania on Friday injured at least 13 people, one seriously, but caused no fatalities, authorities said.(Romanian Emergency Services - ISU Botosani via AP)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — An explosion at a chain home improvement store in northeastern Romania on Friday injured at least 15 people, four of them seriously, authorities said.

A mobile intensive care unit was dispatched to the scene in the town of Botosani, in Suceava county, emergency authorities said. Four of the injured were in serious condition, including two who were intubated. Seven remained hospitalized while eight have been discharged from a town hospital.

Emergency helicopters were alerted, and two ambulances and two fire trucks were sent to the scene to extinguish a fire. A search and rescue mission was underway inside the store. What caused the blast and the identities of those injured were not immediately clear.

The retail company, Dedeman, said in a statement after the incident that at the time of the explosion, which occurred at about 10.30 a.m., an “authorized external company” was working on its Botosani store’s gas supply system and that authorities are working to determine what caused the explosion.

Two of the victims were transported to a hospital in the city of Iasi, about 110 kilometers (68 miles) to the south, while two were airlifted to the capital, Bucharest, to receive faster medical care, according to the ministry of health. Some of the injured suffered burns of 10-15% to the upper parts of their bodies, it said.

Video footage shared by the emergency authorities showed part of the building’s facade had been blown out by the explosion, with air-conditioning units strewn across the area in front of the store amid debris.

“Our priority is to ensure that everyone affected by this incident receives the care and support they need,” Dedeman said in a post on Facebook. It thanked the emergency service teams for “their promptness and professionalism.”