UPDATE: Jail in Pensacola, Florida, hit by deadly blast
A victim of an apparent explosion at the Escambia County Jail is loaded into an ambulance early Thursday. AP photo
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - An official in Florida says three inmates who were missing after an apparent gas explosion at a jail have been located.
Escambia County spokeswoman Kathleen Castro said Thursday the inmates were unaccounted for in the chaos after the explosion. She says they were missing as hundreds of inmates were taken to hospitals and nearby jails, but the three were always under the county's control.
Officials say two inmates were killed and more than 180 inmates and correctional officers were injured in the explosion. County spokesman Bill Pearson says only two inmates and one corrections officer are still at hospitals. Pearson wouldn't describe the extent of their injuries.
The Pensacola area was soaked by record-setting rains this week and parts of the jail were flooded, but officials have not determined if the weather had anything to do with the explosion. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ BY CASSANDRA VINOGRAD AND ALEXANDER SMITH, NBC News
(NBC News) - At least two inmates died and more than 150 other people were injured when an apparent gas explosion collapsed part of a county jail in the Florida panhandle late Wednesday, officials said.
The blast occurred at the Escambia County Jail's Central Booking Facility in Pensacola at around 11 p.m. local time (midnight Thursday ET), officials said.
Kathleen Castro, the county’s public information officer, confirmed the deaths to NBC News and said that both prisoners and corrections officials were among the wounded.
About 600 prisoners were in the building at the time. Uninjured inmates were being moved to other detention facilities, authorities added.
James McLean, who works at the Circle K gas station just a few hundred feet away, said the blast felt like an earthquake.
“There was a big flash that lit up the whole sky and the whole area shook for what felt like a good five seconds,” he told NBC News.
The injured were transported to five local hospitals for treatment.
West Florida Hospital took in 37 patients with "very minor, non-life-threatening" injuries, according to a spokesman.
"All of them have been seen in our ER, treated, and released back into custody,” Kendrick Doidge told NBC News.
Sacred Heart Hospital said it treated 31 patients with minor injuries such as abrasions and neck pain.
Baptist Hospital and Gulf Breeze Hospital saw a combined 81 patients, according to Liz Branch, spokeswoman for Baptist Health Care, while Naval Hospital Pensacola confirmed it saw six patients with minor injuries.
Primary and secondary sweeps of the facility were completed by 1:15 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. ET) but search and rescue crews were continuing to work in the building, according to officials.
Pensacola had been hit by severe floods earlier in the day. It was not immediately clear if that was a factor in the explosion.