The Latest: School near N. Carolina explosion is evacuated

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a gas explosion in downtown Durham, North Carolina (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

A nearby school has been evacuated after a gas explosion that killed at least one person at a building in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

Classes have been dismissed for the day Wednesday at the Durham School of the Arts. The schools website says it has about 1,700 students in grades 6 through 12 and more than 135 teachers and counselors.

Durham Police Department public affairs manager Wil Glenn says a contractor digging under a sidewalk hit a 2-inch gas line, triggering the explosion. One person was killed and 15 were taken to area hospitals.

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11:55 a.m.

Eyewitnesses are saying they thought a bomb had gone off or an earthquake had hit after a gas explosion in downtown, Durham North Carolina, that has killed at least one person and injured others.

Witness Donna Hester told WRAL-TV the Wednesday morning explosion sounded like a bomb. Another witness, Kelly Andrus, told the TV station she first thought the shaking was an earthquake. She said she looked outside her workplace and saw deep, black smoke billowing from the site.

Police cars blocked the streets in several directions of the explosion. A thick acrid smoked hung over a shopping district near downtown Durham. Helicopters circled overhead.

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11:45 a.m.

At least one person has been killed in a gas explosion at a building in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

Durham police public affairs manager Wil Glenn says another 15 people have been taken to hospitals after the Wednesday morning explosion that officials have blamed on a gas leak.

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10:55 a.m.

Authorities say emergency officials are responding to an explosion and fire possibly caused by a gas leak in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

The city of Durham tweeted Wednesday that people should avoid the area of Duke and Morgan streets. The city said police and fire officials as well as those from PSNC Energy are responding.

There was no immediate word on any injuries.

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