TORONTO (AP) - A natural gas explosion leveled a strip mall in
Toronto Thursday, leaving seven people missing and presumed dead in
the rubble. Four others were injured.
The blast started a fire at the shopping complex in western
Toronto and tore a hole in the side of nearby home. Several stores
across the street had their glass windows blown out.
A fire department spokesman said construction workers had been
working on a gas line when the blast occurred Thursday afternoon.
Four people were sent to a hospital with undisclosed injuries.
After extinguishing the fire, emergency crews used a crane and
heavy construction equipment Thursday night to probe through the
smoking rubble.
"I would say we're in a recovery stage of victims," said
deputy fire chief Pat McCabe. "At this time we can't find
anybody."
The strip mall contained four shops and five apartments. McCabe
said one of the businesses, a beauty salon, was open for business
at the time of the explosion.
"The whole building at the west end has collapsed into the
basement," said Bill Hiscott of the Office of the Fire Marshal. He
said crews were trying to dig through rubble on the east end of the
building.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)