CANTON, Ill. — Authorities say one person was killed and several people injured in a natural gas explosion in the central Illinois community of Canton.
Officials say the explosion Wednesday evening occurred near the downtown square and damaged several buildings. Authorities say the cause of the explosion hasn’t been determined.
Canton, with a population of about 14,000, is about 30 miles southwest of Peoria.
Authorities say 11 victims were taken to Graham Hospital in Canton. Fulton County Coroner Steve Hines said one of the victims – an employee of Ameren Illinois, a gas and electric company – later died at the hospital. One victim was taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria with non-life threatening injuries.
The Fulton County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency reported that the multiple buildings had been damaged and that large amounts of debris were scattered around the Canton square.
Onlookers reported that Canton’s historic Opera House had been leveled by the blast.
“We have structural engineers in the area checking area buildings. This is a very slow and methodical process. They are working hard and as fast as possible,” the agency said in a statement shortly after 9:30 p.m.
The agency has advised residents to avoid the area around the square. Displaced residents were being directed to a Salvation Army facility.