At least one person has died and several others are seriously injured after a major explosion destroyed houses in Baltimore.
At least five others, some of them children, were initially trapped in the rubble, firefighters said, while local media reported at least three people had been rescued.
The exact cause of the blast on Reisterstown Road, a residential area in the north of the city, is unknown but local media quoting firefighters said it was a suspected natural gas explosion.
They just extricated somebody. She was moving! pic.twitter.com/Ipv3TjnC0R
— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) August 10, 2020
⚠️⚠️ANOTHER SURVIVOR RESCUED⚠️⚠️
An adult male was just freed from the rubble by the multi-jurisdictional rescue operation. He is being transported by #BCFDEMS to the hospital in serious condition. Rescuers continue to search the debris for other survivors. pic.twitter.com/nc3Aju9gf9
— Baltimore Firefighters IAFF Local 734 (@BCFDL734) August 10, 2020
Pictures of the scene showed three houses had been destroyed, as rescue workers picked through rubble and debris searching for victims.
The Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) said it had found one dead woman, tweeting: “One adult woman deceased as BCFD continue to search for more.”
But in the space of three minutes, firefighters pulled a woman and a man alive from the rubble.
The crew posted on Twitter “adult female just dug out of the rubble by multi-jurisdictional operation,” adding that the survivor was taken to hospital in a serious condition, along with a man rescued soon afterwards.
Four people are in a serious condition in hospital and firefighters were trying to rescue a sixth person.
On scene of a major gas explosion at Labyrinth and Reisterstown Rd. involving 3 homes. 2 occupants transported in serious condition, 1 adult woman deceased as BCFD continue to search for more. pic.twitter.com/4Hzrjkaled
— Baltimore Fire (@BaltimoreFire) August 10, 2020
Dean Jones, who lives near the destroyed homes, told WBAL television the scene was “just chaos”.
He added: “We were just worried about just trying to get people out. Once they said a kid was in there, I lost it.
“I said I had to get in there now. I am not a hero, I’m a human.”
Kevin Matthews, a building inspector who also lives near the houses, said he could hear cries from children trapped under the rubble.
He told the Baltimore Sun he found one person buried from the neck down and another sheltering in a closet.
The newspaper reported people felt the blast miles away, and neighbours said their windows were blown out and doors blasted off their hinges.
Officials from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co and the Baltimore Office of Emergency Management were at the scene.
Gas company spokesman Richard Yost told the paper: “Crews are working to turn off gas to the buildings in the immediate area. Once the gas is off we can begin to safely assess the situation including inspections of BGE equipment.”