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In Youngstown, Ohio, a Blast in a Building Kills One Bank Worker and Hurts Seven Others


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A big blast destroyed a lot of the ground floor of an apartment building. It killed one bank worker and hurt several others. At first, police and rescue workers said natural gas was to blame, but later, the fire chief said the cause is being looked into.

Tuesday at 2:45 p.m., there was a blast that sent part of the ground floor of Realty Tower into the basement and the facade across a street that was blocked off on both sides by orange construction fence. There is an apartment building on the top floor of the 13-story building and a Chase Bank branch on the ground floor.

At a news conference on Wednesday, city officials said that the state fire marshal’s office was in charge of looking into what happened. They didn’t say when a decision might be made.

Youngstown Police said Wednesday that Akil Drake, a 27-year-old bank worker, had been seen inside the building right before the explosion. At a news conference on Tuesday, Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley said that firefighters had saved several people and checked the building to make sure no one else was hurt.

Finley said on Wednesday that Drake and a woman whose name has not been released were the first people who were not found after the explosion. Firefighters and other emergency workers stayed at the scene for several hours to try to find them. Finnegan said the woman was found in a hospital where she had been listed under a different name for some reason that no one knew about.

Drake’s body was found in a basement in the end.

“We weren’t going to leave until we found him.” Finley said, “His family deserved to be at peace.”

JPMorgan Chase said it was sorry for his death and would work with the authorities in the area. A company statement said, “Our hearts go out to their family as well as our injured employees, their families, and everyone else who has been affected by this tragedy.”

The fire chief later said it was too early to say if there had been an explosion or not. Police and the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency said there had been an explosion.

“We don’t know what made the bomb go off.” Finley said Tuesday, “We know there was an explosion, and it hurt the bottom of the building a lot.” He said that none of the flats in the building can be lived in.

Seven people who were hurt were taken to Youngstown’s Mercy Health Hospital. Finley said that one woman was still in serious condition on Wednesday.

The blast shook central Youngstown, which has about 60,000 people living in it. The walkway was full of broken glass, bricks, and other trash.

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