On the night of 26 January 2010 the building, a large town house that had been converted into flats, on the rue Léopold in the centre of Liège was devastated by a catastrophic explosion. The explosion that happened at around 2am resulted in the collapse of the 5 story building. Fire fighters searched for hours for survivors among the rubble. 14 people lost their lives and a further 19 people were injured.
Among those killed were Vicky Storms and Alexis Robert. From under the rubble they helped the rescue team find a 12-year-old girl. The girl was saved, but Vicky and Alexis died. They were postumously awarded a medal for self-sacrifice by the Federal Government.
The investigation into the explosion dragged on for years. A trial finally got under way on Monday (12 October 2020). Sentence was passed on Thursday.
The owner of the building was given a 14-month suspended sentence. An investigation by building experts had revealed that the gas pipes that had been fitted in the building did not conform to safety standards. The landlord was found guilty of negligence and sentenced to a 14-month suspended prison sentence. The man had installed the gas pipes himself despite not being qualified to do so. Just a few days before the explosion there had been a gas alarm in the building.
A number of fire-fighters for the Liège Fire Service had checked the building just a couple of days prior to the explosion. The Fire Service was also found guilty of negligence. However, in their case no sentence was passed.
Two members of the City of Liège’s Public Safety and Health Service also stood trial as they too had carried out checks on the building. They were both acquitted by the court.