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Gas explosion reported in downtown Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Authorities say a natural gas explosion in one of New England's biggest cities has destroyed two buildings but hasn't killed anyone.

They say firefighters and gas company workers are among more than a dozen injured people.

The explosion in a downtown area of Springfield blew out all windows in a three-block radius, leaving three more buildings damaged beyond repair and prompting emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was buckling.

Police Sgt. John Delaney says it looks as though there was a missile strike where the explosion leveled the multistory building at its epicenter.

Officials at two nearby hospitals say a total of 16 victims were transported with injuries but none was critical.

Firefighters responded to the scene at 4:20 p.m. and were investigating a gas leak when the blast happened shortly after 5 p.m.

A witness in a nearby barber shop tells WWLP-TV he heard a loud explosion that knocked him to the other side of the store. He says he looked up the street and saw one building severely damaged. The station reports that two buildings have been damaged, and the blast was felt for miles away.

There is no immediate word on injuries but ambulances have been sent to the scene.

There are reports that a gas leak was being investigating before the explosion.

Springfield is the largest city in western Massachusetts with a population of about 150,000.


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