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Germany: 1 dead, 11 injured in apartment building explosion

BERLIN – One person died and 11 were injured in an explosion at an apartment building in eastern Germany on Friday, authorities said.

The blast occurred in the apartment of a 78-year-old man, who police believe may have been the person who died.

Police said they found several containers of butane gas in the apartment in the town of Blankenburg, in a building that wasn't connected to the gas network, and that these may have caused the explosion. They initially said that military munitions had been found there, but later said they couldn't confirm that after a closer check and found no evidence of explosives.

Authorities initially thought as many as 25 people might have been injured in the explosion just before 9 a.m. but later lowered the number. Blankenburg Mayor Heiko Breithaupt said 11 people were injured, two of them seriously. A few rescue officers also were suffering from the effects of inhaling smoke.

Debris from the blast flew up to 60 meters (200 feet), police spokesman Uwe Becker told German broadcaster n-tv. Residents were evacuated from the building, which has 60 units.

The building is on the edge of Blankenburg, a town of about 20,000 people in the Harz mountains, west of Berlin.

About 100 children at a nearby daycare center were taken to other facilities. None of them was hurt.