4 killed, 24 injured in Poland apartment building collapse

WARSAW, Poland — An apartment building collapsed Sunday in Poland’s western city of Poznan, killing four people and injuring 24 others, officials said as firefighters and rescuers with dogs combed the rubble in search of more victims.

The building contained 18 apartments and housed 40 residents, according to firefighters’ spokesman Slawomir Brandt, who gave the death toll.

Polish TV channel TVP INFO showed part of a four-story building in a heap and rescuers checking the debris in sub-freezing temperatures. The search was expected to continue until Monday.

Police and prosecutors questioned witnesses at the site.

“We heard this loud bang and then terrible cries from people ‘Save us! Save us!,’” ground floor resident Krzysztof Sledz told state news agency PAP. “My wife and I dressed and left the apartment to help the neighbours.”

Sledz said they pulled their neighbour’s 2-year-old daughter from a bed strewn with rubble.

“I thought she was dead, she was blue. But they say she is in hospital,” Sledz said.

Hospital spokeswoman Urszula Laszynska said one young girl was hospitalized in stable condition, while two other children were dismissed after being treated for bruises.

Displaced residents were offered shelter and food at a nearby hotel. Officials said the remaining part of the building was unsafe and would be torn down.

The government has promised shelter and financial support for the residents.

Regional governor Zbigniew Hoffman said it was too early to determine the cause of the collapse, but added that a gas explosion was one possible explanation.

Gas service to the site was cut off, and the remaining part of the building closed.

Last April, six people were killed and four injured when a gas explosion caused a small apartment building to collapse in the southwestern Polish town of Swiebodzice.

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