Huge flat blast injures cops responding to distress call as it ignites on entry

Police officers and firefighters have been left with severe injuries after attending a blaze at an apartment building.

Several people are understood to be in a critical condition following the explosion in Ratingen, close to Dusseldorf, in western Germany.

It has been reported that petrol had been poured inside the apartment before the blaze began, sparking fears that it may have been intentional.

READ MORE: Massive explosion rocks tranquil harbour as inferno destroys two chip shops

At the moment the door of the flat was opened an explosion occurred. It is not known if this was intentional, although the outlet reports it is possible, or whether it was caused by the door being broken down by responders.

Around 10 emergency workers are believed to have been hurt in the blast.

Speaking to Bild, a spokesperson for the police said: “There was an explosion of unknown cause. Several people were injured. Also policemen.

"The explosion took place in an apartment in a high-rise building."

A suspect is understood to be holed up at the top of the apartment and some eyewitnesses have alleged they had heard gunshots coming from the flats.

The cause of the explosion is now the subject of investigation by police officers and comes just hours after a large explosion took place in Milan in Italy.

North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul said in a statement: "Neighbours have pointed out that the mailbox has been overflowing since one apartment.

“There was a suspicion of a helpless person in the apartment. When the police came, the apartment door was opened.

“A son and a mother stayed in the burning apartment; the man set off a detonation with an unknown object.”

Images have since emerged of special forces officers surrounding the apartment.

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