At least eight people have been killed and 61 others injured after a blast ripped through an apartment building in Santa Fe's Rosario neighbourhood in Argentina.
The incident, apparently due to a gas leak in the 10-storey building, occurred at 9:30am local time, Rosario civil defence director Raul Reinone told reporters on Tuesday.
And city officials in Rosario said at least 19 people were still missing as hundreds of firefighters and rescuers searched the rubble of the edifice that was in danger of collapse.
Hours after the accident occurred, people were still trapped inside the building, where shouting could be heard from inside the rubble, firefighters reported.
The shock wave was tremendous
The injured included at least one child who suffered head trauma, the minister said.
The blast wiped away the front of the edifice, leaving the insides of people's homes and gutted balconies visible from the street below.
Rosario's health ministry declared an emergency, calling all dispatchers into action.
Mayor Monica Fein said 17 ambulances were on the scene to help people burned in the fire.
People within a two-kilometre radius of the explosion, including 11 schools, were evacuated, as the gas supply to the building could not be cut off.
"The magnitude of the accident is important. Various structures are affected and various firefighting units from Rosario and nearby cities are here," said Reinone.
He said that the magnitude of the event may cause the building to collapse.
"The shock wave was tremendous," the superintendent of a building 200 metres from the site of the explosion told the TV station C5N.
The blast sent flames roaring through the building, as fire truck sirens sounded and traffic clogged Rosario's city centre.
Windows shattered in buildings in a radius of several hundred metres from the blast site. The area includes shops, schools and banks.
Rosario is home to 1.1 million people and is located 300km north of Buenos Aires. It is Argentina's main port for farm exports.