Body Found in Restaurant Gas Explosion Debris

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By Ben Brumfield and Steve Almasy(CNN) — One body was pulled from the debris Wednesday at the site of an explosion at a Kansas City, Missouri, restaurant.

A construction subcontractor breached a gas line with an underground boring machine Tuesday evening, leading to the deadly explosion, a little more than an hour later, Missouri Gas Energy Chief Operating Officer Robert Hack told a news conference on Wednesday.

Officials say they cannot be certain that there are no other victims of the explosion, which happened Tuesday evening after a strong odor of gas was reported in the area.

One female employee was reported missing after the blast, but Fire Chief Paul Berardi said it was too early to confirm the identity of the victim, whose body was found near the restaurant’s bar area.

At least 15 people were injured in the blast.

Six people remained hospitalized Wednesday, three in critical condition, Berardi said.

Although only one person was believed to be missing, and one body was found, Kansas City Mayor Sly James said he cannot be 100% sure everyone has been accounted for.

About 30 search personnel were on the scene Wednesday.

Debris was stacked 3 to 4-feet high where the restaurant once stood.”Early indications are that a contractor doing underground work struck a natural gas line, but the investigation continues,” according to the utility, Missouri Gas Energy.

The fire department suspects no “foul play at this time,” Berardi said.

The gas leak started about an hour before the explosion.

People at JJ’s and nearby residents smelled it and alerted authorities. Utility workers came out to inspect, fire department spokesman James Garrett said.

*Get the latest on the explosion from WDAF*

The gas sent flames a few stories high into the night sky. More than 100 firefighters responded, Berardi said.

Dr. Leonardo Lozada heard the explosion a block and a half away at St. Luke’s Health Systems, where he is chief physician.

“It was pretty loud. I just heard it; it wasn’t that traumatic,” he said.

JJ’s Restaurant was a popular place near Country Club Plaza, an opulent locale with upscale shops and restaurants.

The restaurant’s owner, James Frantze, was in Oklahoma at the time of the blast. A message on the restaurant’s Facebook page made a simple request of patrons:

“Please keep our friends and families in your hearts and prayers.”

CNN’s Carma Hassan and Cristy Lenz contributed to this report.