Gas leak reported before blast leveled restaurant

Kansas City Explosion
Posted at 9:19 PM, Feb 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-06 11:41:44-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Crews using flashlights, cadaver dogs and heavy equipment are rushing to finish the search for more victims of a Kansas City restaurant explosion ahead of a winter storm that's expected to bring heavy snow.

A day after the natural gas explosion leveled the popular JJ's restaurant, investigators are combing through the rubble and still trying to understand how the blast happened -- despite suspicions that flammable fuel had been leaking, maybe for weeks, somewhere in the busy outdoor shopping area.

Hours before the blast, witnesses reported a strong smell of gas, and firefighters were summoned to the scene at one point but left without ordering an evacuation.

A body has been recovered, and the mayor worries the debris could be concealing other victims.

James says authorities can't be "100 percent sure" they have accounted "for every single person that may have been at JJ's when the explosion occurred." The search started without a list of people who were in the building.

The explosion occurred after a construction crew apparently struck a natural gas line, touching off a blast that could be felt for nearly a mile.