Here's how things unfolded Wednesday at Minnehaha Academy - Bring Me The News

Here's how things unfolded Wednesday at Minnehaha Academy

A natural gas explosion caused part of the school to collapse.
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11 p.m. Second body found in the rubble

The body of the person who was missing was found in the rubble around 8 p.m., according to a tweet from the Minneapolis Police Department

Minnehaha Academy confirmed the John Carlson – an alum and custodian at the school – has died. 

Operations at the scene have been shutdown for the night, with Minneapolis police saying the investigation will continue on Thursday. 

5:23 p.m. School identifies missing man as John Carlson

Minnehaha Academy identified the missing person as 81-year-old John Carlson, a custodian at the school. 

5 p.m. School identifies person killed in explosion

Minnehaha Academy has identified the woman who was killed in the explosion as Ruth Berg, a receptionist at the school. 

She's worked for the school for 17 years.

The school said the explosion also injured administrative staff.

4:30 p.m. 'It's going to take us some time'

At a news conference, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel explained the next steps in their search for the missing person, noting "It's going to take us some time." 

This is still a rescue mission, with Fruetel saying he's "not ready" to call it a recovery effort. He's hoping there's some "void space" in the collapsed building, and they'll know more when they begin efforts to remove debris – including a large air conditioning unit – off the search area. 

Fruetel noted that "It's going to take a long time," and those on the scene will notice things will start to slow down a bit. That's because crews have to be precise to make sure everyone on the scene is safe and the building doesn't collapse further. 

Crews don't know exactly where the missing employee may be, but they have a general area to focus on. They'll start the search there, and expand from that area if needed. 

Officials haven't identified the missing staff member, but media outlets have reported it is 81-year-old John Carlson, a janitor at the school. 

4:23 p.m. Prayer service planned tonight

4:07 p.m. 1 person still in critical condition

The Hennepin County Medical Center says it is currently treating four patients, one is in critical condition and three are in satisfactory condition. 

Five other patients have been discharged from the hospital. 

Officials have said one person was killed and one other is still unaccounted for following this morning's explosion. 

4 p.m. First responders share their stories

Officers with the Minneapolis Police Department were among the first to respond to the explosion scene and helped dig out a man who was trapped inside.

3:40 p.m. Reports ID school employee who's still missing

Family members told KSTP 81-year-old John Carlson, who is a janitor at Minnehaha Academy, is the person who is still unaccounted for. 

 The person who died hasn't been ID'd by officials, but media outlets say it was 47-year-old Ruth Berg, a receptionist at the school. 

Nine other people – no students – were brought to the hospital to be treated. 

3:30 p.m. School staff killed, another missing

The Minneapolis Police Department tweeted that the person who died and the person who is still missing are both staff members at Minnehaha Academy. 

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed one person has died as a result of the explosion. Media outlets, citing family members, say the person who died is 47-year-old Ruth Berg, a receptionist at the school.

3:20 p.m. 

Officials from across the state are assisting the Minneapolis Fire Department after the explosion. 

The Minnesota Department of Safety says the fire marshal and the chief engineer with the office of pipeline safety were there to support initial response efforts. 

Teams with Homeland Security and Emergency Management are there to help with the search, including Task Force 1, which specializes in collapses and "confined space rescues." 

And the State Patrol's Aviation Rescue Team (MART) is doing aerial observations and photography of the scene. 

One person is still unaccounted for. 

2:45 p.m. 1 person dead, 1 person still missing

At a news conference, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said of the two people who were reported missing earlier in the day, one of them was "recently recovered." 

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office will identify the person who died.

Fruetel is still considering this a rescue mission to find the other missing person, but notes it's a "precarious" situation and the building is "very unstable," noting two floors collapsed into a subbasement, which is filled with water from firefighting efforts. 

The chief says he has a general idea of where the person may be, but not a specific location. Officials will work together to come up with a plan to search the pile of rubble, noting they have to be "very precise" about it due to the heavy damage to the building. 

Officials have said nine other people were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. No students at the school were injured in the explosion, Minnehaha Academy had said

The explosion happened around 10:20 a.m. 

2:40 p.m. Family members say 1 person has died

WCCO is reporting family members have confirmed one person has died in the explosion, apparently a longtime receptionist at the school. 

Police have not confirmed this, but officials plan to give an update at 2:45 p.m. 

1:55 p.m. Company carrying out work at school issues statement

Master Mechanical, the company carrying out work on the gas line at the school, has issued a statement saying its "thoughts and prayers" are with everyone involved.

1:40 p.m. Hennepin County confirms natural gas explosion

Hennepin County Emergency Management has confirmed that natural gas caused the explosion at Minnehaha Academy.

Contractors were carrying out work at the school, apparently on the gas lines/meters, when the blast occurred.

Centerpoint Energy is on the scene and said it's carrying out its own investigation.

A video taken shortly after the blast occurred has been shared on Twitter, you can see it below.


1:10 p.m. 9 patients admitted to HCMC, 3 fighting for their lives

In a press conference outside Hennepin County Medical Center, Dr. James Miner revealed that nine people – all adults – have been admitted following the explosion.

Three of those have life-threatening injuries, after sustaining blast-related, blunt trauma injuries in the explosion, including head injuries as well as broken arms, legs, ribs and vertebrae.

Four more are in a serious condition, while the remaining two were released after only sustaining "minor trauma." None of the patients suffered burns.

None of the patients required emergency surgery, but HCMC has a doctor still on the scene at the school. They are helping with the search and rescue effort to find the two people still unaccounted for.

12:55 p.m. Update from Centerpoint Energy

Centerpoint Energy has seemingly confirmed it's the gas supplier for Minnehaha Academy, with technicians arriving on the scene this lunchtime.

In a series of tweets, the utility says "the cause of the incident is not known at this time and we will conduct an investigation to determine the cause."

"Our focus at this time is making the area safe. Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted."

Minnehaha Academy meanwhile has the following update.

12:35 p.m. – Chopper out as search continues

FOX 9's Paul Blume took this snap of the State Patrol helicopter out at the scene, presumably continuing the search for the two people still unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, it's being reported that permits for gas piping and meter hookups at the school were pulled on June 2.

The company carrying out the work is based on Eagan, but told KSTP it is not commenting at this stage.

12:10 p.m.

Officials have given the latest update on the situation at the academy, saying one of the five people taken to hospital after the explosion is in a critical condition.

Contractors were working on the gas line at the building before the explosion, as they carried out some work on the school's boiler system.

Two people remain unaccounted for, and a police department spokesman says they are not 100 percent sure whether they're trapped in the rubble or if they're not on the scene at all. A person who was earlier unaccounted for but has since turned up was found away from the blast zone.

The Minnehaha Academy basketball team just posted this tweet, with Timberwolves hero Karl-Anthony Towns also sending his best wishes.

Noon: 2 people unaccounted for, one found uninjured

Minneapolis fire say that two people are now unaccounted for, with one person previously missing found uninjured.

Police have also released pictures showing the wreckage from the suspected natural gas explosion, with a huge chunk of the building – believed to house English and Spanish classrooms – blown apart.

On parts of the building left standing, windows have been blown out by the force of the powerful blast.

11:50 a.m. 

Minnehaha Academy is a Christian pre-K through 12th-grade school that’s split into two campuses, one of which is for high school-age students.

According to Minnehaha’s calendar, the school’s 2017-2018 academic year doesn’t start until August 14, when practices for varsity fall sports commence.

Minnehaha was founded in 1913, and according to its website, focuses on "robust college-preparatory curriculum, excellent co-curricular offerings and opportunities for leadership and service."

The academy is located at 3100 West River Parkway in south Minneapolis.

Update 11:35 a.m: 5 taken to the hospital

The latest update from Minneapolis Police says that as well as the three people still unaccounted for, five people have been transported to the hospital, while one person was evaluated at the scene and released.

The Hennepin EMS says it has 10 ambulances on the scene.

It's becoming clear that despite the school term not starting for 12 more days, there were plenty of people on the campus at the time.

They include members of a girl's basketball team practicing in the gym when the explosion happened, with the Star Tribune's Libor Jany reporting it sounded like a "large door slamming," before the ceiling started to collapse.

A man and his daughter were also in the school counselor's office at the time, Jany reports, but were able to make it out.

There is currently a Minnehaha Academy Summer Camp running right now, but one of the children's parents reports all are safe at the Lower Campus.

Gov. Mark Dayton has issued a statement, promising the state will provide "any and all resources necessary" to assist responders at the scene.

Update 11:20 a.m.

The Minneapolis Fire Department has said three people were rescued from the roof of Minnehaha Academy following the explosion Wednesday morning.

Three other people however remain unaccounted for, with the department earlier saying at least one was trapped under rubble.

Minneapolis Police has advice for any family members headed to the scene.

11 a.m.

Emergency services in Minneapolis are scrambling to the scene of an explosion and building collapse at Minnehaha Academy.

The Minneapolis Fire Department said that at least one person is trapped beneath the rubble and three in total are unaccounted for after the blast ripped a huge chunk out of the building in south Minneapolis.

The department initially said that one person had died in the incident, but has since backtracked on this, saying a death has not been confirmed.

Minnehaha Academy said on its Facebook page the explosion at its Upper School was caused by a gas leak.

KARE 11 reports that all students are accounted for, though it appears as though some athletics and basketball students were on the campus at the time.

Trauma workers at Hennepin County Medical Center are waiting to treat the injured, WCCO reports, while Mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges says she is being briefed by the city's fire and police chiefs as the situation unfolds.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said he is "sending prayers to all those inside Minnehaha Academy right now and the first responders on the scene working hard to bring them to safety."

An image of the aftermath of the school has been shared on Twitter, with this one showing a huge section of the building appears to have collapsed.

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