MINNEAPOLIS: Two people were killed and nine injured Wednesday after a gas explosion started a private Christian school in Minneapolis, started a fire and caused the building to collapse, authorities said.
The body of a school employee recovered at 8 am. CDT debris at the Minnehaha Academy, about 10 hours after the blast, the Minneapolis fire chief said John Fruetel at a news conference.
Fruetel refused to identify any of the victims pending the notification of relatives.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the remains removed earlier in the day were those of Ruth Berg, a 47-year-old receptionist at the school who was engaged to get married.
Family members spoke before the local news channel KARE John Carlson, 81-year-old custodian, had disappeared and no one could join him.
The nine people who were injured were taken to local hospitals and one was in critical condition, Fruetel said.
The school was not in session because of summer vacation, Fruetel said.
“It would have been a lot worse … we’ve been very lucky in that sense,” he said.
Authorities said there were no indications that a broken gas pipeline would have caused the explosion and that contractors would work at the school. The academy has confirmed on Facebook that there was a gas leak and an explosion in high school.
“This is a day of great pain in Minneapolis,” said Mayor Betsy Hodges at the press conference.
The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said guns on Twitter that their agents, fire investigators and trained dogs were at the scene of the blast.
Phillip Day, 41, said his wife and his 17-year-old daughter, met Chimali a school counselor to discuss college options during the blast.
Day said that when they left the conference room, his daughter was knocked out the door by force of the explosion and his wife scraped.
Tramon Van Leer, 33, was at the Minnehaha Academy gym that played basketball with his stepdaughter and four other girls when they heard the blast.
After they were left uninsured, Van Leer said he looked back and said, “Wow, the whole section of the school is gone.”
According to its website, Minnehaha Academy was founded in 1913 and teaches more than 800 kindergarten through 12th grade students on both campuses.
(By Todd Melby) Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Gina Cherelus in New York; Jeffrey Benkoe, Matthew Lewis and Paul Tait Edition)