Around 9 am, a leak occurred on a natural gas pipe running underneath a pavement (diameter: 63 mm) and placed in the tubing of a former pipeline; 2 explosions followed some 45 minutes later. A 5-storey residential building caught fire and partially collapsed. Windows on the buildings across the street and at a nearby schoolhouse (empty at the time) were completely shattered.

About 100 individuals had been evacuated 10 minutes prior to the explosion and building collapse. Gas supply for 200 service users was cut. 176 fire-fighters extinguished the fire using 51 vehicles and followed up by conducting cleaning and search missions. The intervention came to a close on 23rd December around noon.

A total of 8 individuals were injured and 36 apartment units destroyed. All those living in the destroyed building were made homeless and had to be housed temporarily by the local town hall.

Boring works caused this leak. An investigation was carried out in order to assess the observed malfunctions and propose solutions to be implemented to avoid recurrence of such an accident.

During this administrative investigation, the construction crew was unable to furnish documentation potentially corresponding to a commencement notice. The search undertaken by the gas utility’s technical office regarding an eventual works commencement notice also proved fruitless. Moreover, the company indicated that for the previous boreholes, it had proceeded with a manual core sampling of the parcel; as for the site in question however, such preliminary sampling had not been performed.

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