Explosion rocks Illinois shopping plaza; at least 6 taken to hospital - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Explosion rocks Illinois shopping plaza; at least 6 taken to hospital

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) - An explosion ripped through a shopping plaza Thursday, and at least six people were taken to hospitals with injuries, police said.

The explosion struck around lunchtime at the shopping center, located about 40 miles from Chicago. The impact shattered windows and collapsed the ceilings of the plaza, which housed businesses including a cell phone shop, a tuxedo store and a hair salon.

Waukegan Police Chief Bill Biang told the Chicago Tribune the cause "appears to be a gas explosion at this time." Crews from People's Gas were on the scene to investigate.

Candi Rixie said she was taking orders at a sandwich shop a block away when she heard a boom.

"We felt like an earthquake, like somebody had hit the building with a car," she said.

Six people were taken to an area hospital, said Waukegan Police Cmdr. Wayne Walles. Authorities were going into the building to see if people were trapped inside. Fire crews picked through piles of debris in the snow-coated streets.

George Sanchez, general manager of Chicago-based Mena Travel agency, said his company's Waukegan branch was adjacent to the explosion and employees inside felt the vibrations. But the store wasn't damaged by the blast.

"Our folks are OK. They were asked to vacate the premises for safety reasons," he said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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