MONTEVIDEO – A woman died and a teenager was seriously wounded in the explosion of a presumed letter bomb, according to initial police reports, at a home in Montevideo, Uruguayan media reported on Sunday.
Fire department and army investigators were sent to the scene of the blast and resulting fire, which occurred on Saturday afternoon, to determine its cause, but they ruled out various more normal causes, such as a gas leak.
The dead woman, identified as Miriam Mazzeu, 49, was the owner of the house, located in the Buceo neighborhood, while the injured teenager, who is being treated in a local hospital and was said to be in “guarded” condition, was a friend of the woman’s son.
Suspicions that a letter bomb was the cause of the fiery blast, which destroyed a large part of the home, arose after neighbors noted a strong odor of gunpowder immediately afterwards, and one neighbor said that a messenger delivered a package to the house moments before the explosion.
The investigators ruled out other causes for the explosion, noting that two gas cylinders inside the house were undamaged and the location did not have any natural gas lines for cooking or heating.
The suspicion that a letter bomb might have been used led authorities to call military explosives experts to the scene.
The army experts, however, told the daily El Pais that the magnitude of the explosion makes it difficult to see how a package bomb could have been responsible.
“If we’re talking about an explosive contained in a small package or letter, it’s difficult with such a small quantity to be able to cause structural damage like this ... For this explosion, they would have had to use at least a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of explosive,” one expert said.
The blast could have been caused “by some type of substance that was being handled inside the house,” the explosives expert said.