An apparent gas explosion in a Pensacola, Fla. Jail caused the building to collapse and two inmates to die Wednesday night.
The blast occurred about 11 p.m. CT Wednesday at the Escambia County Central Booking and Detention Center here, county Sheriff David Morgan said. About 150 detainees and corrections officers were injured.
Three inmates are missing, according to Morgan. The inmates could be dead inside the jail or they might have escaped in the chaos following the blast, he said.
Deputies haven’t been able to get far enough inside the structurally unsound building to look for the inmates in the wake of the explosion.
“It’s pretty much complete destruction inside this facility. It was a huge explosion,” Morgan said.
No additional bodies have been discovered, and all corrections offers have been accounted for. But inmates were transported to five local hospitals and jails across the Panhandle, and Morgan said earlier that some could have escaped during the confusion.
A portion of the jail was demolished, and the explosion rattled houses up to 3 miles away. County officials had to evacuate about 600 inmates to secure facilities and now are working with state and federal agencies to perform a head count of all who were in the jail at the time of the explosion
Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the explosion. Kathleen Castro, a spokeswoman for the county, said it was unclear whether the incident had been caused by the severe weather that flooded the county Wednesday morning.
“The building did receive extensive flooding as a result of the rains,” she told WALA. “I don’t know if that’s directly related to the incident that happened this evening or not, we’ll be doing an investigation to determine that.”
The facility holds about 400 men and 200 women. Many frantic relatives are seeking information about inmates who were housed in the jail.
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