Gas Leak Causes Explosion, Collapse at MN School

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And after 17 years with Minnehaha Academy, Berg and her upcoming wedding had students past and present chattering. Right now, though, the focus is on the rescue operations as authorities believe there are several people still trapped under the rubble of the collapsed structure.

"Gas was going. Fire was going".

One person previously unaccounted for had been found safe and not at the site.

Those inside the gymnasium at the time say there were only a few seconds between someone saying they smelled gas and the building exploding.

Ramsey County sheriff's deputy Paul Meskan was weeding his front garden, across the street from the school, when he heard the blast and, turning, saw a huge cloud of dust.

Technical Rescue/Structure Fire - 3100 block of W. River Pkwy.

"It had to be a significant explosion that would take out that brick and cause the building to collapse", he said. Crews extinguishing fire, searching for victims and extricating. Of the nine, three people remain hospitalized.

"This is a deep, deep loss for us", said Sara Jacobson, Minnehaha Academy spokesperson.

A local hospital said nine people were hospitalized, with three in critical condition, four in serious condition and two suffering minor trauma. Some students in the academy's summer program were on campus at the time of the explosion, but none of them were hurt. He attended the school himself, graduating in 1953, and sent his children there before returning to work as a janitor.

Those in the neighbourhood said the explosion rattled windows on nearby buildings. "Kind of rocked my daughter and she fell back into the building", he told KSTP.

The Minneapolis Fire Department initially reported one person was dead, however they tweeted 20 minutes later that the fatality could not be confirmed.

"It's just a very precarious situation, it's very, very unstable, there are no signs of (the missing person's) obvious location and we know there are probably at least two floors of debris", Fruetel said.

Statement from Master Mechanical, the contractors working at #minnehahaacademy when gas line was hit. They later confirmed the death of 47-year-old receptionist Ruth Berg.

"He loved people, he loved God and he loved his school", she said. However, dangling debris is adding a challenge to the search efforts.

Former Minnehaha Academy employees Elizabeth Van Pilsum, left, and Rick Olson, center, react after an explosion at the school in Minneapolis. "We would always high-five each other".

She was reportedly planning to get married in October. "We pray for his healing and for the wisdom of the doctors and nurses caring for him at this time", the school said in a statement. Duffey is an assistant soccer coach at the school. Another employee was still unaccounted for as of 6 p.m. Wednesday. HCMC tweeted at 9:19 p.m. that they are now treating four people - one is critical and three are in satisfactory condition.

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