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City in 'missile strike' gas blast

Authorities said it was a miracle no one was killed in a natural gas explosion in one of New England's biggest cities.

Fire brigade chiefs in Springfield, Massachusetts, said a building housing a strip club was destroyed and a dozen others were badly damaged in Friday night's blast.

Gas engineers who were already in the area because of a leak and several firefighters and police officers were among the 18 injured in the explosion, in a central area of the city.

Police said it looked like a missile strike where the explosion occurred and state lieutenant governor Tim Murray said it was "a miracle" no one died.

Gas company workers had been sent to investigate a possible leak in the commercial and residential area, 90 miles west of Boston. The explosion happened an hour later.

The explosion blew out all windows in a three-street radius, leaving three more buildings beyond repair and prompting emergency workers to evacuate a six-storey apartment building that was buckling. It looked as though there had been "a missile strike" police sergeant John Delaney said.

The victims were taken to two hospitals in the city. None of their injuries was considered life-threatening, officials said.

Separately, a gas blast at a restaurant in northern China killed 14 people and injured 47. Restaurant explosions are common in China, though a death toll this high is rare.

The government of Shouyang county in Shanxi province said on its official website that a gas leak caused the blast and triggered a fire at the Xinyangyang hotpot restaurant.

The official Xinhua News Agency said six people were killed at the scene and eight others died in hospital. Seventeen people were severely injured. Xinhua said the explosion was so powerful that it shattered the windows of the two-storey building that houses the restaurant and shops.


From Belfast Telegraph