KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The mayor of Kansas City says there could still be more victims in the rubble of a restaurant that was destroyed by a gas explosion and fire yesterday evening.
Search crews have recovered one body. Authorities had been looking for a woman who had worked at JJ's restaurant and was seen there before the blast. They had earlier said she was the only person still unaccounted for.
But Mayor Sly James says authorities can't be "100 percent sure" that they have accounted for everyone.
Crews using flashlights, cadaver dogs and heavy equipment are racing to finish the search ahead of a winter storm.
The explosion occurred after a construction crew apparently struck a natural gas line, touching off a blast that could be felt for nearly a mile.
Fifteen people were injured in the blast. Six are still hospitalized.
The city's fire chief says the precise cause of the gas leak is still under investigation. Firefighters had received a call less than an hour before the explosion saying that a construction worker had hit a gas line near the restaurant.
It's not clear how hard firefighters or utility officials worked to evacuate the restaurant after gas was first noticed. The mayor and the fire chief say the fire department deferred to the gas utility, since it had more expertise in assessing the situation.
183-a-17-(Kansas City Mayor Sly James, at news conference)-"nobody else there"-Kansas City Mayor Sly James says the search at the site continues. (20 Feb 2013)
<<CUT *183 (02/20/13)>> 00:17 "nobody else there"
182-a-09-(Kansas City Mayor Sly James, at news conference)-"at J.J.'s"-Kansas City Mayor Sly James says it's possible that other victims will be found. (20 Feb 2013)
<<CUT *182 (02/20/13)>> 00:09 "at J.J.'s"
185-a-10-(Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi, at news conference)-"in stable condition"-Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi says many of the 15 people who were hospitalized have gone home. (20 Feb 2013)
<<CUT *185 (02/20/13)>> 00:10 "in stable condition"
GRAPHICSBANK: Fire and smoke rise at an upscale shopping district in Kansas City, Missouri, on texture, partial graphic (20 Feb 2013)
APPHOTO MOKAS101: Kansas City, Mo. firefighters walk out of the charred wreckage of JJ's Restaurant carrying a stretcher on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 in Kansas City. Search crews at the site of the massive explosion that destroyed the restaurant, recovered one body Wednesday, and the city's mayor said there was no certainty the rubble wasn't concealing other victims. Mayor Sly James declined to say whether the body belonged to a man or a woman, though authorities have been looking for a woman who worked at JJ's restaurant and was seen there before the Tuesday evening blast and reported missing afterward. A natural gas leak turned into an explosion that leveled the building on Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, David Eulitt) (20 Feb 2013)
<<APPHOTO MOKAS101 (02/20/13)>>
APPHOTO MOKAS201: Fire and smoke rise at an upscale shopping district in Kansas City, Mo., where a city official said a gas explosion sparked a block-engulfing blaze, Tuesday evening, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Keith Myers) KANSAS CITY OUT (19 Feb 2013)
<<APPHOTO MOKAS201 (02/19/13)>>