The death toll in a blast that caused a building to collapse in Acre was raised to five late Monday morning, after rescue forces reported finding three more bodies in the debris of the three-story structure.
Eleven people were injured in the incident in the northern town’s old city, two of them seriously.
The first two bodies discovered at the scene before daybreak were identified as Muhammad Bader, 43, and his wife, Hanan, 39. The second two bodies were identified several hours later as another couple: Najah Sarhan, 35, and her 40-year-old husband, Ra’ek. Rescue forces shortly afterward found the body of their eight-year-old son, Hamed, in the rubble.
The blast that caused the collapse occurred around 2 a.m. on Monday morning. Initial reports stated that the collapse was triggered by a gas tank explosion, with police also investigating the possibility of sabotage.
Local residents reported a longstanding dispute between the building’s landlord and tenants over the placement of cellular antennas on its top floor. Attempts had reportedly been made to sabotage them in the past.
“I think it has to do with the cellular antennas and the quarrel over them but I’m not certain,” neighbor Nadia Amara told Channel 2.
Firefighters and paramedics were working at the scene from the early morning hours, treating the wounded and searching for survivors.
Five families lived in the three-story building located in the old city of Acre.
One man who suffered from serious head trauma was brought to Nahariya’s Western Galilee Medical Center.
Paramedics also brought to Nahariya two men in their twenties in moderate condition with bruising across their bodies, a lightly injured 10-year-old girl who suffered light bruising and grazes, a lightly injured woman, and a one-and-a-half year old baby girl suffering from shock, according to United Hatzalah.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich visited the site and said every possibility would be investigated.
“It’s possible this was a localized incident or a criminal act, but we must be patient,” he said. Turning to the issue of the recent spate of deadly gas-related incidents, he said it was “a complex issue which combines several government ministries. It’s still not possible to determine that the explosion was caused by a gas leak.”
In January, a gas explosion in Jerusalem killed two parents and their 3-year-old child, and left 11 others injured, one of them critically. There was no suggestion of foul play in that incident.