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Deadly blaze tears through Slovakia high-rise block

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This handout picture made available by the Slovak Police on December 6, 2019 shows the emergency services working at the scene of a gas explosion in an apartment building in Presov, eastern Slovakia. – At least five people died in the gas explosion that rocked a high-rise apartment building in eastern Slovakia, police and firefighters said. (Photo by HO / Slovak Police / AFP)

At least seven people died and dozens were injured in a gas explosion that rocked a 12-storey building in eastern Slovakia, police said on Saturday.

Local police chief Jan Golias said one person was still missing after the fire in the town of Presov, 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the capital Bratislava.

About 100 firefighters battled the blaze, which hit the top four or five floors of the building and led to warnings from the fire service that the structure could collapse, local media reported.

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The initial explosion was reported at noon on Friday, with last fires being put out by Saturday morning.

“We estimated the number of injured at 40,” Alena Krcova, a rescue services spokeswoman, told AFP.

A hospital spokeswoman told local media that nine people were treated at her facility in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, none of whom was in a critical condition.

Police had earlier said in a statement on Facebook that 11 people had been killed in the blaze but the post was later deleted.

Golias gave the death toll as seven following “updated information”, without specifying further.

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