An injured man is evacuated from the scene of an explosion in the coastal Israeli city of Netanya [Reuters]

An explosion in the Israeli town of Netanya, north of the capital Tel Aviv, has killed four people and injured another 60, Israeli police officials say.

The blast occurred in a four-storey residential building on Independence Square in the town centre early on Friday.

Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, said the blast appeared to be a result of a gas cylinder exploding as many people there used tanks of gas for cooking fuel.

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry, reporting from the site of the blast later on Friday, said "an investigation is going on".

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reports from the blast site in Netanya

"Israeli police have confirmed to Al Jazeera that three people have been brought in for questioning: the head of an Israeli gas company here; a technician who came in to fix some pipes; and an individual who they say may have come in, stolen some aluminium copper piping to then try to sell it on the street," he said.

"This was a very large explosion causing a lot of damage.

"It looks like the entire front of the building has been blown off.

"We understand that some of the buidlings nearby were also damaged and police are concerned about neighbouring buildings coming down."

Local media said earlier that many people were trapped, but emergency services said everyone had been evacuated from the building.

There was a strong smell of gas hanging over the debris and dozens of ambulances were sent to the scene.

Though a gas canister was the suspected cause of the blast, police did not rule out the hypothesis of a criminal attack.

Netanya has been struck before by suicide bombers and other attacks. The city has a history of settling of scores by the Israeli underworld.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies