US

California city braced for more dead in gas explosion

Reuters

There are fears that the death toll in a massive fire raging just three kilometres from San Franciso International Airport could rise. The bodies of six people have already been found with dozens more injured.

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Firefighters and emergency crews will not be able to search for more bodies until later on Friday.

Hundreds of residents of the town of San Bruno were forced to run for their lives when a huge gas pipeline exploded triggering a massive fire. Parts of the fire were still burning nine hours after the intial explosion.

The heat from the fire was so intense that it reportedly melted fire truck windows several metres from the flames.

California's acting governor, Abel Maldonado, has declared a state of emergency for San Bruno. Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger is on a trade mission in Asia.

San Bruno Mayor, Jim Ruane, confirmed that the blaze was caused by a 60-centimetre-wide natural gas line that ruptured bringing about the thunderous explosion that set off the inferno.

He described the disaster as a terrible tragedy. "This is going to be a long haul for the city and our residents," he said.

A spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric, which owns the gas pipeline, said the company would take accountability for the accident if it is found to be at fault.

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