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Monday, 13 September 2010

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Toll rises to six

California gas blast

US: The toll in a huge gas pipeline blast in California rose to six after two more bodies were found Saturday, authorities said. “I can confirm that two more bodies have been found this morning. I have no other details,” Steve Firpo, a spokesman for San Bruno township near San Francisco told AFP.

The two bodies raised to six the number of fatalities from the huge gas pipeline blast late on Thursday that also injured 52 people — three with third degree burns — and destroyed 37 homes leaving seven others severely damaged.

The blast-triggered fire consumed four hectares (10 acres) of property and was completely extinguished by Friday night.

The initial death toll was put at four, but California Senator Barbara Boxer told reporters in San Bruno Saturday morning that two people were still missing after the blast.

Firpo could not say for sure whether the two missing persons were those found dead earlier Saturday. Emergency workers said they had searched over 75 percent of the smoldering ruins.

But Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado — standing in for California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is on a trade trip to Asia — was more cautious, stressing that a quarter of the inferno site had yet to be checked.

President Barack Obama Saturday called Schwarzenegger “to express his condolences for the tragic loss of life in San Bruno and his concern for those still recovering from injuries,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs in a statement.

Three of the fatalities have been identified so far. They include a mother and her 13-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old woman, the San Mateo forensic institute said.

Local utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) said a natural gas main ruptured in the town near San Francisco International Airport.

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