ANKARA, Turkey – A boiler explosion on Monday knocked down part of a five-story building that houses military families in southeast Turkey's largest city, the governor's office said. NTV television reported seven or eight people believed to be trapped under the rubble.
Rescuers pulled eight injured people from the wreckage of the building, including at least two children, NTV said. Rescuers were frantically digging to reach the trapped and according to NTV they briefly heard at least two people responding to their calls.
Sirens blaring, ambulances rushed to the scene as dozens of soldiers clawed through the wreckage in the search for survivors. Rescue teams in bright orange uniforms also used sniffer dogs.
At least two children were among the injured, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. At least five apartments were affected by the explosion.
The heating boiler exploded at around 8:30 a.m. (0630GMT), the governor's office said, in the basement of the building in a heavily guarded military compound in downtown Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast.
Police detained a man who carried out repairs on the boiler on Sunday, Anatolia said.
Military trucks ferried excavators to the site, while commandos and anti-terrorism police in armored vehicles guarded the perimeter of the housing compound. Troops also brought in generators, anticipating a possible search under floodlights after nightfall.
Turkish troops have battled separatist Kurdish rebels in the region for decades.
The guerrillas have lately used remote-controlled bombs to attack Turkish military and police, but the clashes were largely isolated to mountainous areas.
The guerrillas belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, declared a unilateral truce on Oct. 1, Turkey vowed to fight until all rebels are killed or surrender.
More than 37,000 people have died as a result of the fighting since 1984, when the rebels first took up arms against the state.