Dead, 1 Missing After Minnehaha Academy Explosion

At least one person was killed and one remains missing with nine others injured, after a natural gas explosion took down a school building on Wednesday in the midwestern USA state of Minnesota, authorities said.

According to Brian Tyner, the assistant chief of administration for the Minneapolis Fire Department, the number of injured people were greatly reduced because it was summertime.

Minnehaha Academy confirmed the fatality and identified the victim as receptionist Ruth Berg, who worked with the academy for 17 years. Some students in the academy's summer program were on campus at the time of the explosion, but none of them were hurt.

Authorities say seven adults are hospitalized, including three with critical injuries.

HCMC has confirmed that the person in critical condition is Bryan Duffey.

Minneapolis issued a permit June 7 to Master Mechanical Inc. of Eagan for "gas piping and hooking up meter" at the address. The conditions of those transported were not immediately known. Dr. Jim Miner, the hospital's chief of emergency medicine, said victims suffered injuries ranging from head injuries and broken bones to cuts from debris.

Jacobson, the school spokeswoman, said Carlson graduated with the Minnehaha Academy class of 1953 and went to Sunday school there.

A section of Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis collapsed Wednesday afternoon, according to video from KSTP-TV. He said that rubble is being combed for the pair but they could also be "walking around out here".

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"We were hoping there might be a void space", Chief Fruetel said at a news conference on Wednesday night.

"We're going to get through it", she told the crowd. The power went out, windows shattered and glass and ceiling tiles "rained down", she said.

A father in the school said two groups were inside the building when the explosion occurred: a group in the counsellors' office having a meeting, and about a dozen students in the gym, practising basketball. The campus has two buildings for students in prekindergarten through the 12th grade.

After the explosion, the school posted an alert to its Facebook page.

Within seconds of the powerful explosion, residents poured onto sidewalks and front lawns, stunned at the burning pile of rubble that moments before was a century-old school building. The school said the blast only affected the "upper school".

As school workers, students and neighbors gathered by the tennis courts in the northwest corner of campus, some Taher employees waited with tears in their eyes to learn the fate of co-workers.

"As soon as I started to take a step or two toward my door, then it just exploded", he said.

Minnesota's governor, Mark Dayton, released a statement that said the state was providing any and all needed resources in the wake of the tragedy.


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