Fatal explosion in Moravian town likely not due to tragic accident but shocking crime

Фото: ЧТК

When news broke at the weekend of a devastating explosion that killed at least five people in an apartment block in north Moravia, it appeared to be a tragic accident. Now it has emerged that the deaths were probably the result of a heinous crime committed by a resident, who himself was killed by the blast.

Photo: CTK
At least five people – three of them children – died in an explosion at a three-storey “panelák” apartment building in the north Moravian town of Frenštát pod Radhoštěm in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The number of dead could rise to six, if a DNA test finds that charred remains initially believed to have been of one person are actually of two. Meanwhile, a married couple who survived the devastating blast are still fighting for their lives in hospital.

Initial reports suggested the cause may have been a gas leak. However, locals interviewed by the media said they believed that an eccentric resident of the building could have played a role in the explosion. In addition, it became clear that fires had broken out in different parts of the structure at the same time.

Tomáš Tuhý,  photo: Czech Television
Fears that the event was indeed the result not of an accident but of a deliberate and unprecedented crime were confirmed on Tuesday by regional police chief Tomáš Tuhý.

“At this moment we are leaning towards one version of events as the most likely. That version points to the fact that a resident of the building, who was killed in the explosion, committed a deliberate criminal act.”

The suspected perpetrator, 57-year-old Antonín Blažek, had lived in the basement of the prefab block. According to press reports, he had frequently threatened his neighbours. They had complained about his behaviour to the local authorities.

A former prison warden, Blažek is known to have had considerable debts including to the fund of his building, to which he owed some CZK 140,000. On an internet forum he had described distraint officers as servants of Satan, complained of police harassment and called for a return to the golden age of socialism.

He was reportedly due to move out on Sunday, the day on which the blast occurred, and had said that if he were forced to leave the building, everybody else would go with him.

Photo: CTK
Police have not confirmed reports that the doors of the building were barricaded before the explosion to prevent residents from escaping.

The people of Frenštát pod Radhoštěm are now trying to come to terms with what appears to have been a heinous crime. They may perhaps take some solace in the sympathy shown by other towns, where collections have been held in support of the victims. A national fund has also been set up.