News Americas, SAN CRISTOBAL, Dominican Republic, Tues. Aug. 15, 2023: A devastating explosion near the capital of the Dominican Republic has left a grim toll in its wake, with the death toll climbing to 10 and dozens injured. As firefighters meticulously search through smoldering debris, heart-wrenching scenes unfold outside hospitals, where desperate individuals seek information about their missing loved ones.
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire after an explosion in a commercial establishment in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, on August 14, 2023. (Photo by AFP STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
President Luis Abinader arrived in San Cristobal, located just west of Santo Domingo, to offer support to those affected by the tragedy. He revealed that in addition to the 10 confirmed deaths, 11 individuals remain missing. The situation is compounded by ongoing fires, collapsed buildings, and charred vehicles, making search and rescue efforts incredibly challenging.
Crushed cars are seen among the rubble of destroyed buildings after an explosion in a commercial establishment in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, on August 14, 2023.(Photo by AFP STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
“We’re doing everything humanly possible … to investigate the situation of the 11 missing,” Abinader stated. “The search for survivors has been very difficult.”
The catastrophic explosion occurred at a bustling commercial center in San Cristobal, resulting in at least 10 fatalities and over 50 injuries. Joel Santos, Minister of the Presidency, confirmed that at least 36 of the injured individuals are still hospitalized.
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire after an explosion in a commercial establishment in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, on August 14, 2023.(Photo by AFP STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
The blast’s origin was a bakery in the city’s vibrant “Old Marketplace” area, known for its diverse range of goods. The flames quickly spread to neighboring businesses, including a hardware store and a furniture outlet.
Health Minister Daniel Rivera expressed the challenges faced by authorities in accessing the explosion site, which remains ablaze. The intense fire and smoke have hindered initial investigations.
The victims of the tragedy include a 4-month-old baby who suffered fatal head trauma and a woman who was employed at a bank. As families anxiously await news of their missing relatives, grief and anxiety envelop the community.
Amid the ongoing crisis, President Abinader announced plans to establish two mobile hospitals to provide medical treatment and psychological services to those affected. Additionally, government officials are launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the explosion and whether the affected business operated in accordance with regulations.
San Cristobal, historically significant as the birthplace of dictator Rafael Trujillo, has sadly experienced similar tragedies in the past. Nearly 23 years ago, an arms depot explosion rocked the city, resulting in casualties and extensive evacuations.