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Bodycam captures desperate rescue efforts after Ohio explosion, NTSB investigates gas pipeline

Bodycam captures desperate rescue efforts after Ohio explosion, NTSB investigates gas pipeline

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The National Transportation Safety Board is now leading the investigation into a massive explosion that blew away much of the main floor of an Ohio apartment building this week, killing a bank employee and injuring several other people.

The NTSB said pipeline and hazardous materials investigators were on the scene Thursday in Youngstown and would announce details during an afternoon briefing.

Police and emergency services initially blamed natural gas, but the fire chief later said the cause was still under investigation. The NTSB is leading the investigation because pipelines are considered a means of transportation.

“We have no idea what caused the explosion. We know there was an explosion and it caused a lot of damage to the underside of the building,” Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley said.

The explosion shook downtown Youngstown around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, causing part of the ground floor of Realty Tower to collapse into the basement and sending its facade across a street where both sides were closed off by orange construction barriers. Bricks, glass and other debris littered the sidewalk outside the 13-story building, which had a Chase Bank branch at street level and apartments on the upper floors.

First responders arrived on the scene within minutes, and some of the initial search and rescue efforts were captured by a Mahoning County sheriff’s deputy’s bodycam video.

“We have citizens here screaming for help,” the deputy shouts into his radio as he runs toward the building. ‘Be careful, people are stuck.’

Moments later, the deputy helps arriving firefighters lower a ladder into a gaping hole where parts of the main floor fell into the basement, then helps a firefighter pull a woman to safety.

Before the partial video released by the sheriff ends, the deputy is able to alert other responders that natural gas is leaking from an area near the front of the building.

The bank employee, 27-year-old Akil Drake, was seen in the building just before the explosion, police said Wednesday. Firefighters rescued others as they evacuated the building.

Seven injured people were taken to Mercy Health Hospital in Youngstown. One woman was hospitalized in critical condition, but her name and further details of her injuries have not been released. Three others were in stable condition and the other three were released.

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