Body Found Following Explosion On KC's Country Club Plaza

By: KCTV (Posted by Melissa Brunner, Chelsey Moran)
By: KCTV (Posted by Melissa Brunner, Chelsey Moran)
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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) - The mayor of Kansas City says search crews have found a body in the rubble of a Kansas City restaurant destroyed by an explosion.

Mayor Sly James did not say whether the person was a man or a woman.

Authorities have been looking for a woman who worked at JJ's restaurant and was reported missing after the Tuesday evening blast. They previously said she was the only person still unaccounted for following the explosion and fire.

But James said at a news conference Wednesday that authorities can't be "100 percent sure that we can account for every single person that may have been at JJ's when the explosion occurred."

One of two people first feared to be missing was later found at a hospital.

He says 15 people were injured in the blast and fire. Six are still hospitalized, and nine have been released.

The blast happened about 6 p.m. Tuesday, when the dinner crowd would have been filing into JJ's and the many other restaurants in the upscale shopping and dining district.

Searchers used cadaver dogs to search the rubble overnight and are waiting for heavy equipment to remove heavy piece so they can continue to search.

City Manager Troy Schulte said it appeared an accident by a utility contractor had caused the blast, and a statement from utility Missouri Gas Energy late Tuesday reiterated that possibility, but Berardi and others cautioned that the cause was still being investigated.

The blast shattered windows in some businesses at a small strip mall nearby, and residents of some neighboring apartments reported minor interior damage. One side of a brick apartment building that shares the block with JJ's appeared to have been scorched.

Workers were rushing to remove the debris and investigate the cause because a major winter storm was forecast to hit the area Wednesday evening, James said.

"We have a major storm coming in this evening," James said. "We're going to work diligently to get in (to the blast site) to get underneath that weather."

JJ's had managed - until Tuesday night - to survive in the shadow a large construction project that has been under way across the narrow, one-way street for seven years. The work had complicated access to the street-corner restaurant, and a server needed hospital treatment in 2006 after she was struck by a rock sent flying by blasting for excavation of the construction site.

It was not known whether the contractor said by MGE to have been doing underground work was connected to the construction project.

The restaurant consistently received high ratings from contributors to Zagat's restaurant guides, both for its food and its wine list of hundreds of selections.

The shopping area was established in 1922 by J.C. Nichols. Based on the architecture of Seville, Spain, it includes retail, restaurants, apartments and offices.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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