Toll rises to seven in US gas pipeline blast

Sunday, September 12, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - Three more bodies were found in the rubble of a neighbourhood demolished by the explosion of a gas pipeline, raising the death toll to seven, authorities said late Saturday in San Bruno, California.

Dozens of people were injured and more than three dozen houses destroyed in Thursday’s massive explosion of natural gas. Dozens more homes were damaged, and the blaze was not fully contained until well into Friday.

The blast occurred Thursday night as families in the San Francisco suburb were sitting down to dinner.

Six people were still missing as of Saturday night.

Local authorities said the pipeline, owned by Pacific Gas & Electric, exploded at the site of work conducted two years ago to replace adjoining sewer pipes. PG&E officials said the line was thoroughly inspected before and after the sewer project.

Thursday’s blast was so large that many witnesses initially believed that it had been caused by a plane crash from the nearby San Francisco airport. Others thought it was an earthquake, as buildings shuddered from the force of the blast.

The cause of the inferno is believed to have been a leak in a high-pressure natural gas line running through the area. Residents had reported smelling gas earlier in the day.

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