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2 killed, 9 injured in gas explosion at Minneapolis school

04 August 2017

One person is dead and another missing after a natural gas explosion and partial building collapse Wednesday morning at Minnehaha Academy's Upper School in Minneapolis.

"This is a day of extraordinary heartbreak in Minneapolis", Mayor Betsy Hodges told the news conference.

At the time of Wednesday's blast, as many as 10 students were playing basketball inside a gym at Minnehaha Academy but weren't near the explosion, said Sara Jacobson, the school's executive director of institutional advancement. Minnehaha Academy confirmed in a Facebook post that it was longtime receptionist Ruth Berg.

Authorities confirmed one of the employees killed was Ruth Berg, who had been the receptionist at the school for 17 years.

Local fire officials say the explosion was caused by natural gas, and contractors were working on the building at the time of the blast. Previously, it was reported that three people were #missing but later, one was found with injuries.

One person, identified as Bryan Duffey, is in critical condition.

A work permit issued by the city of Minneapolis to an Eagan-based company, Master Mechanical Inc., allowed for gas piping and a meter hook up.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the school Thursday.

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The victims reportedly suffered injuries ranging from head wounds and broken bones to cuts from debris.

Jeff Wagner, a WCCO reporter, tweeted that numerous mourners donned Minnehaha Academy clothes and colors as they bowed their heads in prayer and joined hands in song. The foundation has around 825 understudies in grades Pre-K through 12, housed on two grounds. He said someone came into the office and told them there was a gas smell and everyone needed to get out.

"Let this be a reminder to each and every one of us, no one got up this morning thinking that this was going to happen", one of the speakers at the vigil said. "Smoke went up and knocked most of us back".

Residents who live near the school could hear the explosion from blocks away.

Carlson, whose age has been reported as 81 and 82, was a grandfather figure to students at the private Christian school for 14 years.

Former Minnehaha Academy employees Elizabeth Van Pilsum, left, and Rick Olson, center, react after an explosion at the school in Minneapolis.

He said there were contractors in that area working on the building. The school says on its Facebook page that it is praying for Duffey's healing.

Governor Mark Dayton released a statement saying his office was in contact with city officials and the state "will provide any and all resources necessary" to help first responders and ensure everyone is safe. Shortly after, there was an enormous blast that thumped him off his feet, he told WCCO, "and afterward it was simply kinda mayhem from that point". As soon as I turned the corner, you could see the daylight, and I knew, you know, there's something wrong'.

2 killed, 9 injured in gas explosion at Minneapolis school