Investigation underway by NTSB following fatal explosion in downtown Youngstown, Ohio

The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Wednesday that it is currently investigating a tragic natural gas explosion that shook downtown Youngstown, Ohio.

The police have reported that there was an explosion near Central Square on Tuesday afternoon and are advising people to stay away from the area.

Officials reported that one fatality occurred and seven individuals sustained injuries, one of whom is in critical condition, due to the explosion.

The cause of the explosion that affected a building housing a Chase bank and apartments remains uncertain, according to Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley.

On Wednesday, the NTSB announced that its team of pipeline and hazardous materials investigators will be arriving in Youngstown to conduct an investigation into the natural gas explosion.

The explosion’s cause is also under investigation by the Ohio State Fire Marshal, according to police. Officials have established a wide perimeter around the blast site on Wednesday while they continue their investigation.

Officials have confirmed that the body of Akil Drake, an employee of the bank, was discovered in the basement in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown expressed the difficulty of informing a mother that her son left for work one day and never returned home.

Drake, a former student of Penn Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was an active football player during his time there. After graduating in 2015, he went on to pursue his higher education at Youngstown State University, as confirmed by school officials to ABC Youngstown affiliate WYTV.

Mercy Health announced on Tuesday evening that they are currently providing medical care to seven individuals who were injured in the incident. Among them, one person is in critical condition and is currently receiving intensive care treatment.

The Chase Bank occupies the ground floor of the building, while the 12 floors above house apartment units. According to officials, the floor gave way and collapsed into the basement, which was subsequently flooded.

Authorities have closed the building and a nearby hotel indefinitely due to the risk of structural collapse. As a result, streets in the surrounding area are also blocked off to traffic.

According to a spokesperson from Chase, the company is closely monitoring the situation and working closely with local officials to ensure the safety of individuals within the building and surrounding area.

“We will then proceed to investigate the incident and evaluate the extent of the damage,” the spokesperson stated.

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