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A massive blast rocked a bustling marketplace close to the Dominican Republic’s capital on Monday, resulting in the tragic loss of at least three lives, including a baby, and leaving dozens of others injured.
The explosion took place at a bakery in San Cristobal, a city situated just to the west of Santo Domingo, as confirmed by the country’s 911 system through an official statement.
Streets were strewn with charred vehicles and debris from collapsed structures, while a thick column of black smoke billowed from the heart of the city, shrouding several blocks.
In response, businesses swiftly evacuated their premises, while onlookers gathered to capture the incident on film.
Witnesses recounted mistaking the explosion for either a bomb or an earthquake.
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Amidst the wreckage were abandoned shoes, upturned chairs, and a motorcycle helmet.
The exact cause of the explosion remained unclear, though authorities noted that it triggered a fire that quickly spread from the bakery to a neighbouring hardware store and a nearby furniture shop.
The incident unfolded during the afternoon on Monday in a locality known as the “Old Marketplace,” where numerous people engage in daily shopping for items ranging from fresh produce to clothing.
Among the tragic casualties was a four-month-old baby who succumbed to a head injury, alongside two adults who suffered severe burns covering 90 per cent of their bodies, as stated by Dr Mario Lama, the director of the country’s National Health Service.
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A local bank verified the loss of one of its female employees in the explosion.
While the tally of injured individuals reached at least 39 by late Monday night, it was anticipated that the death toll would rise. Firefighters continued battling the inferno, unable to access certain structures.
Health authorities confirmed the demise of three individuals, while civil defense personnel were observed recovering the bodies of two victims who lay near the smoldering scene several hours after the explosion.
Dominican President Luis Abinader promptly dispatched a government delegation to San Cristobal, assuring that officials have been providing assistance to the victims and their families since the outset of the tragedy.
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