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One dead in explosion at South L.A. building [Updated]

July 30, 2010 |  9:14 am
Location of explosion on Florence area of South L.A. Click for a larger map.

One person has died in a commercial building explosion in South L.A. and another is in critical condition.

Capt. Steve Ruda of the L.A. Fire Department told reporters at the scene in the 900 block of East 59th Street that a suspected natural gas explosion shook the two-story building housing a welding operation at 6:15 a.m.

[Updated at 9:24 a.m.: A third person may be trapped in the debris, fire officials said.]

[Updated at 10:25 a.m.: No other victims were found after a detailed search, fire officials said.]

There were victims in the street when 100 firefighters arrived.

Ruda told KNX news radio that one person died and the department's urban search and rescue team was called in to look for other possible victims.

He says search dogs were being used because the splintered wreckage of the building posed a danger to firefighters.

Two people were hurled out of the building and were wedged under cars. At least one was pinned under the axle of a car.

-- Sam Quinones

Map shows location of explosion in Florence area of South Los Angeles. Source: Mapping L.A./Google maps