Gas explosion rips facade off Ohio building, injuring at least seven

The exact cause of the explosion is still unknown, but an investigation will be led by the State Fire Marshal's Office.
Last Updated : 29 May 2024, 04:13 IST
Last Updated : 29 May 2024, 04:13 IST

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A natural gas explosion ripped the facade off a building in downtown Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon, leaving two people missing and injuring at least seven others, one critically, officials said.

Local news outlet WKBN reported that the explosion happened just before 3 pm at the Realty Building on East Federal Street, where firefighters were pulling people out of the building and evacuating others from apartments on the top floors. The building also houses a Chase Bank.

Two people, a man and a woman, were missing, Barry Finley, the Youngstown fire chief, told reporters near the site of the explosion. One of them, he said, is believed to be a bank employee.

The Youngstown Police Department, urging people to avoid the downtown area, said in a statement on social media that the explosion occurred near Central Square.

The Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency said in a statement released on social media about an hour after the explosion that natural gas was involved and that the "situation is fluid but under control".

Mercy Health confirmed in a statement that its health system was treating seven people -- one of whom was in critical condition - and said that it was continuing to "closely monitor the evolving situation".

Security video footage shared online by local news outlet 21 WFMJ shows the moment of the explosion, as the quiet street is suddenly engulfed in a cloud of dust and debris.

Angela Reighard-Rand, a spokesperson for JPMorgan Chase, said the company was "in close contact with local officials to check on the safety of everyone in the building and area".

"After that," she added, "we'll work to determine what happened and to assess the damage."

Enbridge Gas Ohio said in a statement that its crews were working on site with emergency responders "to contain the area and have shut off gas to the entire block as a safety precaution."

"I'd like to extend our sincere condolences to those impacted by this event, to their families and to the community," Stephanie Moore, a spokesperson for the gas company, said. "Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of everyone involved."

The exact cause of the explosion is still unknown, Moore said, adding that an investigation will be led by the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Published 29 May 2024, 04:13 IST

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