At least four people died on Wednesday and more than 40 were injured, including a number of children, when a powerful explosion occurred at a plastics factory in the Dominican capital, authorities said.
The blast occurred around midday at the Polyplas factory in the Villas Agricolas district of Santo Domingo and, according to different reports, a tanker that was unloading propane blew up due to a gas leak.
In remarks to the media, National District Fire Department chief Rafael del Rosario confirmed the deaths of three men and a woman in the explosion, which was heard across a wide portion of the capital.
The fire resulting from the blast has been brought under control, Del Rosario said.
The owner of the factory, Manuel Diez Cabral said that "experts are working with emergency organizations to determine the impact and learn the causes. We are expecting them to issue a report on this situation."
In a statement, the National Health Service reported that 44 people injured in the explosion had been - or were being - treated at local hospitals.
Three of the injured ranging from age 34-55 are in critical condition with second and third degree burns, according to authorities.
Meanwhile, the Education Ministry reported that at least nine students at various schools near the blast site had been slightly injured. Seven of those students were reportedly treated and released, but two others - ages 15 and 17 - remain hospitalized with a torso wound and a slight skull fracture, respectively.
Classes have been cancelled at schools in the area for Thursday and Friday so that authorities can evaluate damage to those institutions and make appropriate repairs.
Local officials said that blood bank supplies would be increased as a precautionary measure.
Dominican President Danilo Medina expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims of the explosion, saying on Twitter: "Our hearts are with each of those affected in the tragedy at (the) Polyplas (company). We extend our condolences to the relatives of the victims of this terrible occurrence and to the residents of Villas Agricolas."