Debris covers the parking lot of a shopping centre after an explosion on Saturday, July 6, 2019 in Plantation, Florida. Picture: WPLG via AP
Debris covers the parking lot of a shopping centre after an explosion on Saturday, July 6, 2019 in Plantation, Florida. Picture: WPLG via AP

Shocking explosion at shopping plaza

A powerful gas explosion caused multiple injuries on Saturday at a shopping mall in Florida, firefighters said.

Photos on US news outlets showed a large field of debris outside the shopping centre in the town of Plantation in south Florida.

The explosion occurred in a vacant pizza restaurant, according to police. The restaurant was destroyed, and nearby businesses were damaged.

Police vehicles are behind police tape after an explosion at a shopping plaza on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Florida. Picture: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Police vehicles are behind police tape after an explosion at a shopping plaza on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Florida. Picture: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Plantation Fire Department said it was a gas explosion, and it reported "multiple patients."

A restaurant was destroyed in the gas explosion, and nearby businesses were damaged. Picture: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
A restaurant was destroyed in the gas explosion, and nearby businesses were damaged. Picture: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson


At least 20 people were injured in the blast, two critically, according to officials.

The Plantation Fire Department said that the police force wished to alert locals of their activity in the area and requested that people avoid the area.

A major avenue running past the mall was shut down as police and firefighters investigated the explosion that occurred on Saturday morning in the town which is west of the popular beachside tourist spot of Fort Lauderdale.

The blast sent large pieces of concrete and steel debris about 100 metres across the street.

 

Firefighters walk through the remains of a building after an explosion on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Plantation, Florida. Picture: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
Firefighters walk through the remains of a building after an explosion on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Plantation, Florida. Picture: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Video and photos posted on social media showed a part of the shopping complex with its roof reduced to rubble and reinforcings.

A police officer at the scene said there were no known fatalities.

This is a developing story, more to come.