Two dead, nine hurt in Minneapolis school
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[August 03, 2017]
By Todd Melby
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Two people were
killed and nine injured on Wednesday after a gas explosion ripped
through a Christian private school in Minneapolis, starting a fire and
causing a building to collapse, authorities said.
The body of a school employee was recovered at 8 p.m. CDT from the
rubble at the Minnehaha Academy, about 10 hours after the explosion,
Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel told a news conference.
Fruetel declined to identify either victim pending notification of next
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 be married.
Family members earlier told local news channel KARE that John Carlson,
an 81-year-old custodian, was missing and that no one had been able to
The nine people who were injured were taken to local hospitals, and one
was in critical condition, Fruetel said.
School was not in session due to summer break, Fruetel said.
"It would have been dramatically worse ... we were pretty lucky in that
sense," he said.
Authorities said there were early indications that a ruptured gas line
may have led to the explosion and that it was caused by contractors
working at the school. The academy confirmed on Facebook that there had
been a gas leak and explosion at its Upper School.
"This is a day of extraordinary heartbreak in Minneapolis," Mayor Betsy
Hodges told the news conference.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said on
Twitter its agents, fire investigators and trained canines were at the
site of the explosion.
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Emergency personnel put water on the scene of school building
explosion and collapse at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, U.S., August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Adam Bettcher
Phillip Day, 41, said he, his wife and their 17-year-old daughter,
Chimali, had been meeting a counselor at the school to discuss
college options when the explosion occurred.
Day said that, as they left a conference room, his daughter was
blown back through the door by the force of the blast and his wife
Tramon Van Leer, 33, was in the gym at the Minnehaha Academy playing
basketball with his stepdaughter and four other girls when they
heard the blast.
After they ran outside to safety, 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 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th
grade on two campuses.
(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,
Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing
by Jeffrey Benkoe, Matthew Lewis and Paul Tait)
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