Two dead in Australia shopping mall explosion


- Victims include electricians working near power transformer


MELBOURNE, Australia (AA) – Two men have died and two are seriously injured after an explosion at a shopping center in the Western Australian city of Perth, local media reported Tuesday.

A 30-year-old man died at the scene and second man who suffered more than 80 percent burns died from his injuries in hospital following the Tuesday morning explosion at the Morley Galleria.

The Western Australian newspaper said the cause of the explosion was unknown but lightning from a severe storm had been ruled out.

Eye-witness Jonathon McDonagh said he saw three men on fire running from a building. "It was horrific, they were screaming and one fell to the ground," he told the newspaper.

"Their clothes were burning and sticking to them. It was fortunate the hydrant was so close because bottles of water wouldn't have helped."

Harry Barugh recounted seeing the men fleeing the building and ripping their gear off.

“I thought a car had exploded, petrol... but it was a lot worse than that, it was the worst sight I had seen in my entire life," he said.

"If there was anything good that came out of this morning, it was the commitment of Australian housewives with kids in pushers... the working class of our country, and you should have seen, before the police boys and the ambulance boys, before anybody got here, their response, I'll never forget that, their response was fantastic."

A spokesman for St John Ambulance said some of the injured were electrical contractors.

Police Insp. Rob Harrison said there was an explosion in the transformer area of the Galleria center at 9.30 a.m. (0130GMT).

"We believe that they possibly were workers who were working within that transformer area of the shopping center," he told ABC News.

The men were reportedly carrying out routine maintenance near the electrical transformer at the time of the blast.

The High Energy Service electrical company confirmed that some of its employees were working at the site but would not elaborate on whether any had been injured.

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