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Body Found After Blast Obliterates N.J. House

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EWING, N.J. — A gas leak and subsequent explosion leveled one house and damaged dozens of others at a suburban townhouse development Tuesday, killing one resident and injuring seven workers, authorities said.

The body was not discovered until late in the day, some distance from the home, after authorities had thought the neighborhood had escaped the blast without any deaths. Police were working to establish the victim's identity, Lt. Ron Lunetta said, adding that no one else was believed to be missing.

At least 55 units in the complex were damaged, police said, including the house that was leveled, and seven others that were "pretty much destroyed," Fire Marshal Bill Erney said.

The events leading to the explosion began with a contractor working to replace electric service to the house that later blew up, officials from the utility PSE&G said. Around noon, the utility got a call that the contractor had damaged a gas line.

Crews were repairing the line about an hour later when, PSE&G spokeswoman Lindsey Puliti said, "there was an ignition."

The force from the explosion buckled windows in an apartment complex nearby, said resident Marsha Brown, and pictures fell from her walls.

"It felt like a bomb," she said.

The seven people injured were all utility workers, authorities said. Just three of those victims, all close to the blast, had to be hospitalized and none of those injuries was considered life-threatening, said Dr. Louis D'Amelio, trauma chief at Capital Regional Medical Center in Trenton. They included concussions, broken bones and minor shrapnel wounds, he said.

Though the damage to the pipeline caused a gas leak that could lead to an explosion, the pipeline itself did not explode, a spokesman for the utility said.

— The Associated Press

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