MattGush/iStock/Thinkstock(CANTON, Ill.) — An explosion caused by a gas leak in the central Illinois city of Canton killed one person, and injured another 11 people on Wednesday, Illinois State Police has confirmed.
“The gas explosion took place in the 10 block of North 1st Avenue, Canton,” Illinois State Police said in a statement. “Several surrounding buildings were affected by the blast. Search crews have completed a primary search and are in process of conduction secondary searches to the affected areas. At this time, there is one confirmed fatality and 11 additional persons injured. Those individuals were transported to local hospitals.”
The Canton Police Department wrote on its Facebook page, “No one is being allowed within a three block radius of downtown Canton. No property or vehicles within this area will be accessible for quite some time. All roads in the three block radius are blocked. IL 9/IL 78 will remain open, but we ask that you avoid the area.”
The post further read, “Natural gas is shut off in Canton. We do not know yet when gas will be restored. We do not know what exact areas are affected by the gas outage.”
Photos from the vicinity of the explosion, which occurred around 5:45 p.m., showed extensive damage, including storefronts with blown-out windows.
Ameren Illinois, a gas and electric company, released a statement on the incident.
“A gas crew from Ameren Illinois responded to the scene of a gas leak caused by a third party contractor that had dug into an underground gas service line in downtown Canton, Illinois. The Ameren Illinois crew squeezed off the gas and was in the process of making repairs when an explosion occurred. One Ameren Illinois worker was fatally injured. Three others were treated at local hospitals.
We express our deep sadness and profound sympathies to the family of our fallen Ameren Illinois worker and ask everyone to please keep his family and the families of the injured in their thoughts and prayers,” the statement added.
Store surveillance footage posted to social media shows the moment the explosion struck.
The injured were initially transported to Graham Hospital in Canton, but one of the individuals died in the emergency room, said a hospital spokesperson.
One of the injured with non-life threatening injuries was transported from Graham Hospital to Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois, located about 30 miles northeast of Canton.
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