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Fireworks accident caused fatal explosion in Swiss car park

Damaged car park
Firefighters at the scene on Thursday. Keystone / Michael Buholzer

The explosion in an underground parking garage in Nussbaumen, northern Switzerland, on Thursday evening was caused by an accident involving fireworks, according to police findings. A 43-year-old Italian and a 24-year-old Swiss man were killed in the explosion.

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It was probably more than normal fireworks, but not explosives in the true sense of the word, said Daniel Wächter, spokesman for the Aargau cantonal police, at a media conference in Nussbaumen on Friday afternoon.

He spoke of a “potent firework”. Apparently it had been handled in the underground parking garage. This had led to multiple explosions at 7pm on Thursday. The work of the fire investigators is continuing.

Specialists are also examining the statics of the underground car park in the housing estate in the village centre. Measures have been taken to secure the underground garage, they said. Cars were towed away to reduce the load on the ceiling above the underground garage. An excavator transported debris from the affected underground car park for private tenants.

There was a great deal of chaos in the underground garage. According to the police, there was immense material damage to the building and the parked vehicles. No estimate of the amount of damage was yet available.

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Some of the 100 or so people who had been evacuated from six buildings connected to the underground car park were able to return to their homes during the night. A contact point was set up on site for the remaining people on Friday morning. According to the police, the 11 injured people should be back at home.

Clean-up operations

The day after the explosions, clean-up work continued. Daylight revealed a picture of destruction: a pizzeria, an optician’s and a hairdresser’s were particularly badly affected. Traces of smoke and smashed windows could be seen on the façade, as reported by a Keystone-SDA reporter.

There were also clear traces of the explosions on the tower block opposite. Blinds were bent, shutters were crooked and windows were smashed. On a balcony on the fifth floor, it looked as if a grenade had hit the corner of the building from below.

Bettina Lutz-Güttler, mayor of Obersiggenthal, said in a Blick video that the event had shaken her up and that similar images were otherwise only seen in war zones. Nussbaumen is politically part of the municipality of Obersiggenthal. Together with the police, possible premises had been organised to accommodate people.

Violent explosions

There were several explosions in the underground parking garage shortly before 7pm on Thursday. The fire then spread over several floors of a block of flats. The high, mushroom-shaped cloud of smoke could be seen from far away.

According to the police, the extinguishing work was completed on Friday night. No other dead or injured people were found.

Translated from German by DeepL/ts

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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