SAN CRISTOBAL, Dominican Republic — The death toll from a powerful explosion near the capital of the Dominican Republic rose to 10 on Tuesday as firefighters searched through smoldering rubble, authorities said.
More than 50 people were injured in Monday’s explosion at a bustling commercial center in the city of San Cristobal, located just west of Santo Domingo. At least 36 of the injured remained hospitalized, according to Joel Santos, minister of the presidency.
Local media reported that an additional 11 people were missing. Health Minister Daniel Rivera said authorities have still not been able to access “ground zero” where the explosion occurred because it was still burning.
The country’s emergency telephone system said the explosion occurred at a bakery in the city’s center, a bustling area known as “Old Marketplace” where people buy goods ranging from vegetables to clothes. The fire then spread to a hardware store next door and a nearby furniture store.
Among the victims was a 4-month-old baby who died from head trauma and a woman who worked at a bank, officials said.
José Ramón Ramírez Rivera, the owner of a local veterinary clinic, told reporters that one of his 15 employees is still missing.
“An office wall fell on top of me,” he recalled. “I couldn’t breathe.”
Smoke still smothered the city’s center on Tuesday, and Rivera urged everyone to wear face masks.
“This smoke is mixed with chemicals,” he warned.