US towns evacuate over gas explosions
TEENAGER DIES AS FIRES START
INVESTIGATORS are trying to pinpoint the cause of a series of natural gas explosions that killed a US teenager and injured at least 10 others.
Authorities said an estimated 8,000 people had to leave their homes at the height of Thursday’s chaos in three towns north of Boston.
The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to investigate, saying pipelines are within its jurisdiction.
The rapid-fire series of gas explosions that one official described as “Armageddon” ignited fires in at least 39 homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, forcing entire neighbourhoods to evacuate as fire crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off gas and electricity.
Gas remained shut off yesterday in most of the area, and the streets were eerily deserted.
Authorities said Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died after a chimney smashed into his car.
Massachusetts State Police urged all residents with homes serviced by Columbia Gas in the three communities to evacuate, snarling traffic and causing widespread confusion as residents and local officials struggled to understand what was happening.
Hundreds spent the night in shelters, and school was cancelled as families waited to return to their homes.