‘It looks like an apocalypse’: 21 hurt in blast at US shopping centre

At least 21 people have been injured after a huge explosion at a shopping centre in Florida.

The blast in the city of Plantation destroyed a pizza restaurant and damaged nearby businesses and cars as large chunks of concrete were sent flying through the air.

Firefighters found damaged gas pipes afterwards, although authorities have said it is too early to determine the cause of the explosion.

A firefighter walks through the remains of a building after an explosion on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Plantation, Fla. Several people were injured after a vacant pizza restaurant exploded in the South Florida shopping plaza Saturday, according to police. The restaurant was destroyed, and nearby businesses were damaged. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Image: The explosion happened at about 11.30am local time on Saturday
Up to 20 people were injured in the blast
Image: An LA Fitness gym was badly damaged

Alex Carver, who was working across the street from the blast, said: “We thought it was thunder at first, and then we felt the building shake and things started falling. I looked outside and it was almost like the world was ending.

“It was nuts, man. It was crazy.”

Up to 20 people were injured in the blast
Image: Firefighters sifted through the rubble to check if anyone was trapped
Up to 20 people were injured in the blast
Image: Damaged gas pipes were found among the debris

One witness told local TV station WPLG that a huge flash of light “lit up the whole sky.”

“It was loud,” the witness said. “This surpassed fireworks … your ears were ringing.

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“It just looks like an apocalypse,” she added.

Up to 20 people were injured in the blast
Image: Several cars were damaged

The explosion, which happened at about 11.30am local time (4.30pm UK time) on Saturday, scattered large pieces of concrete as far as 50 yards away and sent pieces of metal 100 yards across the street.

Mr Carver said two of his co-workers’ cars were destroyed.

Police said at least 21 people were injured, though none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Up to 20 people were injured in the blast
Image: Large pieces of concrete and metal were sent flying
Up to 20 people were injured in the blast
Image: Aerial footage showed the extent of the damage

The explosion destroyed the restaurant, called PizzaFire, which had been out of business for several months.

The blast also blew out the windows of a gym called LA Fitness at the shopping plaza in Broward County.

Joel Gordon, battalion chief at the Plantation fire department, said: “Thank goodness, at this point, nobody was killed.

Up to 20 people were injured in the blast
Image: Fire chiefs said it was lucky more people were not hurt
Up to 20 people were injured in the blast
Image: Debris smashed the windows of cars

“As bad as it is, it could have been a lot worse. LA Fitness was occupied at the time so it could have been tremendously worse.”

Dozens of firefighters could be seen picking through the rubble with sniffer dogs to make sure people were not trapped underneath.

Source: SKY NEWS

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