Police are investigating whether an explosive device was left in an apartment building after four people were seriously injured in an explosion and fire in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
About 25 people were taken to the hospital after Tuesday morning’s explosion set the building on fire in a central residential area. Firefighters led people out of the building while others used tied sheets to climb down from balconies as gray smoke billowed from stairs and windows.
Three women and one man were treated for serious injuries, a spokesman for Sahlgrenska University hospital said. Swedish public service radio SR reported that some 25 people had been transferred to hospitals in Sweden’s second largest city.
The Nordic country has faced an increase in gang crime in recent years, with rival groups using explosives and firearms to settle scores.
“It’s terrible,” Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told the TT news agency. “I have great confidence in the police authority and that it uses all the necessary resources to solve what happened.”
Police, who opened an investigation, said the fire was under control and the tenants had been evacuated. Emergency services ruled out a gas leak as the cause.
“We believe that something has exploded that is not due to natural causes,” a police spokesman, Thomas Fuxborg, told a news conference, adding that “probably” something had been placed at the site of the blast.
Emergency services said they were working to put out fires in the apartment building. They refrained from speculating on the cause of the explosion.
Anja Almen, who lives in the building, said she heard a commotion on the street shortly after 5 a.m., about 15 minutes after the blast.
“I went out onto the balcony and was shocked. There was smoke everywhere, all the stairs, ”she said, from a nearby church to which she and other tenants were evacuated. “Fire trucks with ladders were pulling people out of the apartments.”
A report this year showed that Sweden in the past two decades has gone from having one of the lowest rates of gun violence in Europe to one of the highest.