US authorities are searching for a house near Nashville, Tennessee, after a powerful explosion ripped apart the city’s downtown area early on Christmas morning, damaging dozens of buildings and injuring three people.
Citing law enforcement officials, the Associated Press first reported on Saturday that investigators had identified a person of interest in connection with the motorhome that exploded around 6.30am local time (12.30pm GMT) on Friday. .
Investigators were searching a house in Antioch, about 19 km (12 miles) south of Nashville, who is associated with this person, the news agency said.
During a press briefing on Saturday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Don Cochran said investigators had received more than 500 pieces of advice from the public since the powerful explosion occurred in downtown Nashville, capital of the United States. State of Tennessee and legendary home of country music in the United States.
“Each of them is followed by a team of investigators. This is where we are in this investigation. We continue to follow whatever leads we have and will continue to do so until we find out what happened, ”Cochran told reporters.
The FBI is charged with continuing the investigation, and officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as local police, are also implicated.
They have not yet released any information on a motive or who was responsible for the explosion.
Officials said a recreational vehicle exploded after a recorded message warned “a bomb would explode in 15 minutes.”
The explosion, which police said was “an intentional act,” damaged many buildings in the city center and sent debris and large plumes of black smoke into the air. Three people sustained non-life threatening injuries.
Cochran said the scene of the explosion “is like a giant puzzle created by a bomb that throws evidence across several city blocks.”
“I am confident in the team we have, that we will get to the bottom of it,” he added.
“ Shocking ” damage
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said on Saturday morning he visited the site of the blast.
“The damage is shocking and it is a miracle that no resident has been killed,” he tweeted.
This morning, I visited the site of the bombing. The damage is shocking and it is a miracle that no inhabitant has been killed. @MariaLeeTN and I continue to pray for those who were injured by the blast.
– Governor Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) December 26, 2020
Lee said he sent a letter to Donald Trump asking the US president to issue a declaration of disaster emergency to garner support from the federal government to help with recovery efforts.
The governor said preliminary reports showed 41 companies had been damaged.
“Federal assistance under the Stafford Act is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of state, local governments, disaster relief organizations and compensation through insurance for casualty losses. catastrophes, ”the letter reads.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper instituted a curfew in the downtown area where the explosion occurred on Friday. It is expected to be up at 4:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. GMT) on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Nashville Police Chief John Drake has urged business owners and residents affected by the investigation to remain patient as it continues.
“The federal government is in charge and they will collapse the scene as much as possible as soon as possible,” Drake said in a video posted to Twitter.
He also told the press briefing that there were no more known threats in Nashville. “Let me repeat that Nashville is safe,” he said.
On Friday, the police chief told reporters that investigators at the scene “had found tissue which we believe may be remains.”
Doug Korneski, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Memphis, said on Saturday that investigators are currently working to identify the fabric.
When asked if officials believed the tissue could be linked to the person responsible for the blast, Korneski replied, “We don’t know at this point, but we are working under this assumption and are treating it as such. “
The explosion occurred near an AT&T office and caused widespread communication failures in Tennessee and other neighboring states.
Police emergency systems in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama, as well as the Nashville COVID-19 community hotline and a handful of hospital systems, were down, the Associated Press news agency reported.
“Our teams continue to work around the clock on recovery efforts after yesterday morning’s explosion in Nashville,” AT&T said in a statement Saturday morning.
The company did not specify the exact number of customers affected by the outages.
He said crews were on hand to try to restore service and two portable cell sites have been set up in downtown Nashville, but added challenges persist, including a nighttime fire that required an evacuation. of the building.