One person is dead, four others have been hospitalized and another is still missing after a "major gas explosion" occurred in a Baltimore neighborhood, authorities said.
The fatal incident unfolded on Monday just before 10 a.m. at Labyrinth and Reisterstown Road, officials with the Baltimore City Fire Department confirmed during a press conference.
Six people across three demolished homes were said to be involved in the massive explosion, according to fire officials.
Four of those people were rescued from the massive piles of rubble and transported in serious condition to a local hospital, while one adult woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Her identity has not yet been released.
Authorities with the Baltimore City Fire Department, Baltimore County Fire Department and Howard County Fire Department are currently searching for one additional victim they believe is still underneath the rubble.
The missing person's identity and condition were not immediately clear to fire officials, they explained during the press conference.
At this time, officials said it is unclear what caused the "very intense explosion," but noted that they are investigating the "horrendous type of situation" and searching through debris to find additional evidence and any possible additional occupants.
Following the incident, neighbors were immediately evacuated from their homes. Those who lived nearby but did not require an evacuation were told to shelter in place, according to the Baltimore City Fire Department.
In a statement to NBC affiliate WBAL-TV, Baltimore Gas and Electric said, "BGE received a call from the Fire Department at 9:54 this morning to respond to the scene. We are on the scene and working closely with the fire department to make the situation safe. Crews are working to turn off gas to the buildings in the immediate area. Once the gas is off we can begin to safely assess the situation including inspections of BGE equipment."
Many local residents who witnessed the traumatic event recalled to WBAL-TV how they smelled a strong odor of natural gas before hearing the deafening explosion.
"All of a sudden, there was a loud ka-boom," neighbor Vircha DeHoney told the outlet. "It just shook me and I never heard anything like that in my life, and all of those houses were blown up. I was hysterical… I didn’t know what happened."
Added fellow neighbor Dean Jones: "It was the worst thing I've ever seen in my life… It was comparable to Beirut. It was like someone took a bomb from the sky and dropped it on these three homes."
One neighbor, Antoinetta, recalled to the outlet how she immediately went over to help and pull people from the rubble.
"We were throwing debris. We kept telling them to yell out and to tell us, 'Help me, I'm here!'" she said. "This is something that you don’t see in real life, you only see it in television."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also spoke out about the tragic incident, confirming in a tweet: "We are closely monitoring the situation in northwest Baltimore following this morning’s horrific explosion. We have reached out to offer our full support to the ongoing response and recovery efforts, and are deeply grateful to the first responders on the scene."
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, who was on the scene, told reporters during the press conference that he was "offering my prayers to people who lived in these houses and surrounding community."
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