Published: Sun, July 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

At least 20 hurt as explosion rocks U.S. shopping centre

At least 20 hurt as explosion rocks U.S. shopping centre

Authorities are responding to an apparent gas explosion at a shopping center in Plantation, Florida this afternoon.

An explosion at a Plantation shopping center injured about 20 people around 11:30 a.m. Saturday, in a loud blast heard miles away.

Videos posted to social media showed several buildings with extensive damage, including collapsed roofs and shredded exteriors - and one structure that appeared to be destroyed.

The explosion reportedly occurred around noon in The Fountains, a shopping center in the US city of Plantation.

Witnesses said a vacant restaurant appeared to be ground zero for the blast.

"We did find a ruptured gas line under the rubble but I can't tell you exactly where it came from", Plantation Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Joel Gordon said.

All stores and businesses near The Fountains and Plantation Marketplace, another nearby shopping center, were closed indefinitely, Plantation Police said on Twitter. Gas leaks like this typically don't have fires because they burn out, Gordon said.

"As silly as it sounds, immediately, I don't know why, for a split second I thought to myself, 'Earthquake?'" he said, "because of all the earthquakes that are happening in California, and then I realized that it was an explosion ..."

The explosion reportedly happened inside a fitness centre.

"I went underneath my auto, because there was so much debris flying, falling from the sky", Villa said.

"Avoid the area of University Drive and Peter's Road". "We thought it was a vehicle or a bombing because everything (the building across the street) disappeared".

A police officer, Chavez Grant, said there were no known fatalities.

Guillermo Villa, who told ABC's Victor Oquendo he was in a nearby parking lot at the time of the explosion, said pieces of the building began to fall on his head.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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