By MELISSA NELSON-GABRIEL
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - An apparent gas explosion rocked a jail in the Florida Panhandle late Wednesday, killing two inmates, injuring more than 100 people, and causing the building to partially collapse, according to a county spokeswoman.
At the blast site Thursday morning, pieces of glass and brick were strewn about on the ground. The front of the building appeared bowed out, with cracks throughout. Authorities blocked off roads leading to the jail.
The explosion happened about 11 p.m. CDT at a booking facility at the Escambia County Jail, and as many as 150 inmate and corrections officers were injured, said Kathleen Castro, the county's public information manager.
About 600 inmates were in the Pensacola building at the time, Castro said. Those with injuries - all minor - were taken to hospitals and the uninjured were taken to jails in neighboring counties, officials said.
The Pensacola area was drenched by rains and severely flooded Wednesday as part of a large storm system making its way across the U.S., and Castro said the building was affected. But she said officials did not yet know whether the flooding and explosion were directly related.
Search-and-rescue teams combed the building several times and think everyone is accounted for, Castro said. Investigators were on the scene.
Victims were taken to four local hospitals, and many had been released by Thursday morning, according to the hospitals.
The names of the two inmates killed in the explosion weren't immediately released.
John Mone and John Raoux of The Associated Press contributed to this report in Pensacola. Associated Press writer Freida Frisaro in Miami also contributed.
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