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'It Felt Like An Earthquake': One Still Missing After Kansas City Explosion

Posted: February 20, 2013

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It looks like a contractor may have hit a gas line. A strong odor convinced authorities to start evacuating people from the area. Then, shortly after 6 p.m. local time, a restaurant exploded. The force was felt blocks away.

Fire fighters and utility workers at the scene of a massive gas explosion and fire Tuesday night in Kansas City, Mo.

Fire fighters and utility workers at the scene of a massive gas explosion and fire Tuesday night in Kansas City, Mo. Orlin Wagner

"It sounded like thunder, but it felt like an earthquake," Tracey Truitt, a lawyer who was working in a nearby building, tells the Kansas City Star about an explosion Tuesday evening that leveled a restaurant in the city's Country Club Plaza.

At least 16 people were injured and as of early this morning one person remained missing, the Star says.

Our colleagues at KCUR report that "Missouri Gas Energy released a statement Tuesday night regarding the fire, saying: 'Early indications are that a contractor doing underground work struck a natural gas line, but the investigation continues.' "

According to the Star, the blast happened at JJ's restaurant shortly after 6 p.m. local time. "The force knocked out windows at least a half-block away and was felt nearly a mile away. Flames soared two-thirds higher than the building into the evening sky. Bricks and broken glass were strewn around."

KCUR says that a strong gas odor had been reported before the explosion, and that customers had been evacuated from the restaurant. It adds that:

"The initial blast was felt at least 5 blocks away and shattered windows in the block adjacent to the restaurant. The restaurant building is for practical purposes destroyed — the roof caved in."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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