A massive explosion blew the roof off a popular Quito restaurant late Saturday night, killing two and injuring at least 12.
According to the initial police report, the explosion was the result of a gas leak in a room that contained a large number of domestic gas canisters. The use of domestic gas, which is subsidized by the government, is illegal in commercial establishments.
The explosion, at the Toronto Restaurant on Av. Rio Coca and 10 de Agosto in Quito, occurred an hour before midnight as dozens of guests were eating Christmas Eve dinner. The dead included a seven-year-old boy, identified as Adrian, and an 80-year-old women named Maria.
“The investigation continues but, so far, shows the source of the explosion to be in a room that contained 44 illegal gas tanks meant for domestic use,” the National Police said on Monday. “It is our belief that the owner manipulated the pipes and valves to control a gas leak and this led to the explosion. During three previous inspections of the premises, the owners misled inspectors and did not show them the location of these gas tanks. They were concealed from public view.”
The police statement added that some of the tanks were connected by pipes that provided gas to the restaurant kitchen.
The owner was arrested.
As of Monday afternoon, details about those injured had not been released but police said several of the injuries were serious.