Powerful Explosion Rips Through Prague’s Tourist District

Anyone familiar with Prague’s postcard-perfect Old Town will be saddened to hear a powerful blast tore through the tourist district this morning, reducing one building to rubble, shattering windows and – worst of all – injuring up to 40 people.

AP is reporting the blast, which is believed to be a gas explosion, stranded tourists on street corners and caused evacuations in the surrounding buildings. Windows were blown out of the 19th-century National Theater, one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic. According to the news outlet, the center of the explosion was a row of several-story tall brick buildings that date back about a century.

Prime Minister Petr Necas likened the blast’s destruction to an air assault or a bomb explosion, but mayor Bohuslav Svobodo ruled out a terrorist attack. Only two injuries were serious, but two or three people are believed to be missing. Rescuers are searching through the rubble, while the blast has also caused major traffic disruptions and confused thousands of tourists in the area.

[Photo credit: Smtunli, Svein-Magne Tunli, Wikimedia Commons]