Crews searching for victims after explosion at Minneapolis school

Calvin Saunders
August 4, 2017

Two beloved employees of Minnehaha Academy were killed in the suspected gas explosion Wednesday, according to the school.

Fire Chief John Fruetel says one body was found after the explosion caused a partial building collapse at Minnehaha Academy. Minnehaha Academy said the explosion killed Ruth Berg, the school's receptionist for 17 years.

Minnehaha Academy recent graduate Ashley Mullen, 18, said Berg was a "friendly face - anyone who called the school would go to her".

"As our receptionist, she welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families, and staff", the statement read.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in this tragedy and especially with the families and loved ones of those who have died or who have been injured", the company said in a statement. The school says on its Facebook page that it is praying for Duffey's healing. John will be deeply missed'. Some students in the academy's summer program were on campus at the time of the explosion, but none of them were hurt. According to reports, rescues are underway for victims, and three people have been rescued off the roof.

Their blast-related injuries ranged from head trauma and broken bones to cuts and scrapes. The structural integrity of the building is still in question.

The natural gas explosion occurred Wednesday morning in the centre part of one of the school campus buildings in the city of Minneapolis, where a construction crew was working.

The Christian school serves students from pre-kindergarten through to year 12. The 2017-18 school year is set to start August 23.

School officials said all of the students - some of whom were on the field at the time, and many of whom were in the gym - had been accounted for. People were also trapped in the building, according to authorities. One person was evaluated and released.

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The fire department said one fatality had been reported, but authorities have not confirmed the death. She said the explosion was instantaneous with their warning to evacuate.

Video broadcast by CNN affiliate WCCO showed smoke and flames rising from the debris.

"Everything shook. All the cupboard doors were blown open", she said.

Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said the injured were all adults, either school employees or contractors.

One witness, Jack Mahler, said he was practicing soccer across the street when he saw two men trying to get people's attention inside the school.

"Ruth. I know our career paths took us in different directions and I did not get see you as much as I would have liked".

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said his office "is in continuous contact with the city of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, as emergency personnel respond to this emergency".

Noon: Minneapolis Fire officials say they are still working to identify who the missing people are and whether or not they were in the building at the time of the explosion.

Hundreds of friends, neighbors, co-workers and community members gathered for a vigil Wednesday night for the victims of the explosion.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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