NETANYA, Israel, June 17 (UPI) -- An apparent natural gas explosion ripped an apartment building in Netanya, Israel, early Friday, killing four people and injuring dozens more, officials said.
Many of the casualties were French tourists spending the summer in Israel, the Israel newspaper Haaretz reported.
Those killed were described as two women in their 40s, one man in his 20s and a 51-year-old man.
The blast, which occurred about 12:20 a.m., heavily damaged the five-story building. Nearby buildings also sustained damage.
Haaretz said emergency workers, assisted by cranes,were evacuating residents of the apartment building and checking to make sure others were not trapped in their apartments.
While the cause of the explosion had yet to be confirmed, it occurred within hours after residents had complained of smelling gas in the area. Haaretz said workers for the company that supplies the gas tanks showed up to check the tanks and left after finding no problem with them.
The newspaper said police, responding to a complaint Thursday afternoon about a man hanging around the building's gas tanks, spoke to him but did not take him in for questioning. However, after the explosion, the man was arrested on suspicion of having tampered with the gas tanks.
Police also were expected to interrogate the gas company employees about possible negligence on their part, Haaretz said.