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15 dead as dorm collapses in central Turkey

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  • NEW: At least 15 dead, local emergency officials say
  • Large gas canister explosion is believed to cause blast, mayor says
  • Students aged 8 to 16 were staying at dorm, authorities say
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(CNN) -- A girls' dormitory collapsed in the south-central Turkish town of Taskent in Konya province early Friday, killing at least 15 girls and injuring 22 others, the governor of the region said.

The scene Friday morning from the site of the dormitory explosion.

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed dormitory.

Up to ten more girls are believed to be trapped in the rubble, according to Osman Aydin, the governor of Konya province. Contact has been made with several of them, he said.

A gas canister explosion is believed to have caused the collapse of the three-story building, according to Aydin. An estimated 50 girls were staying there.

News reports showed rescue teams picking through rubble while ambulances rushed victims to the hospital.

According to the Associated Press, the explosion occurred around 4:15 a.m. local time (0115 GMT) when most of the students were asleep.

Anatolia news agency quoted one student, Merve Avci, as saying she had got up to wash before pre-dawn prayers when she and some teachers heard a strange sound and went to the kitchen to investigate. There, they saw a loose gas pipe, and she returned to her room after the teachers told her to close the door. Video Watch rescuers work through the collapsed building »

Soon after, Avci told Anatolia, she smelled gas and there was an explosion. Half of the building collapsed, but she was in the section that remained intact. She said flames rose from the basement toward the top of the building.

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Helicopters ferried rescue workers to the scene. Gov. Aydin said emergency teams had been dispatched from the Turkish capital, Ankara, AP reported.

Konya province is about 210 miles (335 km) south of Ankara.

-- Journalist Andrew Finkel contributed to this report

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