(Reuters) – A major gas explosion leveled three houses as it tore through a Baltimore neighborhood on Monday, killing at least one person and critically injuring three while at least five others including children were trapped, firefighters and media said.
The Baltimore Sun reported it was a natural gas explosion, citing fire officials, but said the exact cause remained unknown.
Photos from the scene showed a section of brick row houses leveled with rubble strewn about as rescue workers climbed over a pile of debris, searching for victims.
“One adult woman deceased as BCFD continue to search for more,” the Baltimore City Fire Department posted on Twitter.
Three patients, all in critical condition, were rescued by firefighters, the Baltimore Firefighters IAFF Local 734 wrote on Twitter.
“Several houses exploded. At least 5 people trapped, some children,” the union said.
“Rescuers are communicating with one person still trapped,” the union said in a separate post.
Officials from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co and the Baltimore Office of Emergency Management were at the scene, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“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,” gas company spokesman Richard Yost told the Sun
One neighbor who happens to be a building inspector told the Sun he could hear shouts from trapped children.
“Come get us! We’re stuck!” came the cries, Kevin Matthews, a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration building inspector who lives in the block, told the Sun.
Matthews also found one person was buried from the neck down and another was sheltering in a closet, the Sun said.
Some people said they felt the blast several miles away, and neighbors reported their windows were blown out and doors blasted off the hinges, the Sun reported.