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via The Indianapolis Star

A powerful explosion killed two people and damaged at least 18 homes in a Far Southside neighborhood Saturday, a blast so strong that it was heard several miles away and left a scene described as both a war zone and a disaster area. Its cause wasn’t immediately known.The blast hit the Richmond Hill subdivision, near Stop 11 and Sherman Drive, just after 11 p.m. It obliterated two houses immediately, badly damaged two adjacent houses that were set afire from the blast and rocked neighbors out of their living room chairs, sent shelves and wall hangings flying and scattered debris across an area of several blocks.

Authorities fearing a gas explosion ordered an evacuation that sent residents walking through neighborhood streets and across nearby fields in slippers and pajamas, toting children in blankets, some with pets on leashes, some with their pets left behind. Within an hour, more than 200 people were huddling at the Mary Bryan Elementary School, a temporary shelter that soon was flooded with donations of food and supplies. Gas and electricity to the neighborhood was shut off and it’s not clear when residents will be able to return.

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