MINNEAPOLIS - A Somali community advocate says that three people are unaccounted for following an explosion and fire that destroyed a building in Minneapolis Wednesday morning.
Mohammed Cheikhadobi made that statement during a press conference at the Brian Coyle Community Center where victims and families of those impacted by the disaster are being urged to go for help.
"My concern is for the victims, to their families," said Minneapolis City Councilman Abdi Warsame, "and that they get adequate support. I mean obviously their homes are destroyed, and so shelter, food, medical support. That's my main concern right now."
Fire crews were dispatched to the 500 block of Cedar Avenue South just after 8:15 a.m. and found the building, which houses a grocery store, mosque, and 12 apartments, engulfed in flames. At the time Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said 13 people had been injured in the blast and subsequent fire; that number was later increased to 14, with 6 of the victims said to be critical.
Those injuries include severe burns, and trauma suffered by those forced to leap from second and third story windows to save their lives.
One of those injured was a cousin to Ismail Adan, who lived in an apartment on the third floor. Adan was at his mother's home at the time of the explosion but his cousin Samatar was. He was forced to jump from a window to the street, and was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.
Authorities are hoping that families and friends who haven't heard from people who lived in the building or may have been visiting there will stop by the Brian Coyle Community Center and provide information to investigators. While Cheikhadobi maintains that three people with ties to the building remain unaccounted for, he also says that does not mean they perished in the blaze.
Governor Mark Dayton released a statement Wednesday afternoon, extending his best wishes to victims of the incident.
"On behalf of all Minnesotans, I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims of today's awful fire in Minneapolis and to their families and friends. We hope and pray for your swift and complete recoveries. I also want to thank the State Troopers, Minneapolis Police Officers, Firefighters, and other First Responders, who endangered themselves to save the lives of those engulfed by this terrible tragedy."