US & Canada

Deadly 'gas blast' at jail in Pensacola, Florida

Damage is visible from a gas explosion at Escambia County jail in Pensacola, Florida, on 1 May 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Part of the prison collapsed after the blast

Two jail inmates were killed and more than 180 injured in an apparent gas explosion in a Florida jail, local officials have said.

Part of the Escambia County jail in Pensacola collapsed after the blast late on Wednesday.

As many as 600 people - inmates and corrections officials - were believed to be in the building at the time.

Officials are investigating whether recent flooding could have caused the explosion.

"The explosion shook us so hard it was like we were in an earthquake," inmate Monique Barnes told The Associated Press news agency.

"It was like a movie, a horrible, horrible movie."

The blast happened shortly after 23:00 local time on Wednesday (05:00 GMT Thursday).

"There was an apparent gas explosion in the central booking area of the Escambia County jail," local spokeswoman Kathleen Dough-Castro said.

"We had approximately 600 prisoners in the facility at the time. Injured prisoners are being transported under guard to area hospitals. Uninjured prisoners are being transported to other detention facilities."

Three people - two inmates and one correctional staff member - were still in hospital with injuries on Thursday evening.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Heavy flooding has damaged a number of roads in Florida

Parts of Florida - including Escambia County - have been recently hit by heavy flooding caused by a storm system in the region.

A number of roads have been badly damaged.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in the affected areas.