Cadaver dogs sniff gas explosion site

Cadaver dogs were searching early Wednesday through the rubble of a U.S. restaurant flattened by a natural gas explosion, and authorities said 14 people were injured, at least three critically.

Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said the search was standard given the size of the fire and the fact that there was no immediate, reliable count of people who were inside at the time.

"I would always fear there are fatalities in a scene like this," Berardi said.

Berardi said one person reported missing, a female employee, had not been found.

Missouri Gas Energy, the utility that supplies the area, said in a statement that "early indications are that a contractor doing underground work struck a natural gas line."

Dr. John Verstraete, who works next door to the restaurant, told The Kansas City Star newspaper that several employees of the office smelled gas for several hours Tuesday afternoon. The smell grew stronger through the day, and a gas company employee entered the medical office just before 6 p.m. recommending that it be evacuated, he said.

The University of Kansas Hospital was treating six people injured in the blast, said spokesman Bob Hallinan. He said one person was in critical condition, two were in serious condition and two others were expected to be released. He said all of those injuries were traumatic, such as broken bones, rather than burns or smoke inhalation.

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