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Hospital: 5 injured in explosion at Illinois shopping plaza

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Five people taken to Vista Hospital, spokesman says
  • Authorities were searching the rubble for anyone who may be trapped
  • Cause of blast remains unknown
  • Video showed broken glass and piles of debris littering the sidewalk
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(CNN) -- Mannequins, broken glass and debris littered the street Thursday after a midday explosion at a small strip mall that injured several people, collapsed roofs and left mounds of rubble in a Chicago, Illinois, suburb.

An emergency worker searches through the rubble looking for anyone who might be trapped.

Five people were taken to Vista Hospital, a spokesman there said.

Desiree Rogers, president of North Shore Gas Co., said their crews were turning off the gas lines into the mall in Waukegan so firefighters can search the rubble for anyone who may be trapped and begin trying to determine the cause of the blast.

"We do know there was an explosion. We know there was a tuxedo store there and also a hair salon and a bar. Until the firefighters get in there and ... we can get to our equipment and take a closer look, it is premature to say exactly what has caused this," she told CNN.

The explosion may have originated inside those businesses.

Crews from Peoples Gas Co. also were working at the site.

The one-story strip mall is in the 1900 block of Grand Avenue, at Lewis Avenue. See where the blast happened »

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"Right now, we don't know if there's people still stranded inside," witness Tawana White told CNN. "There's mannequins from the salon all outside, there's water all outside, and people standing around to see what's going to happen next."

One witness said the mannequins from the tuxedo shop looked like bodies.

"It's a busy area," said Nick Alajakis of the Lake County News-Sun. He said the blast was reported about noon (1 p.m. ET). Video Watch a report on the blast from Alajakis »


Pat Rixie, who manages Leno's Submarine Shop, about half a block away, said the explosion shook the restaurant about 12:15 p.m. She said she thought a car had run into her business. The eatery is still open, but streets are blocked off, she said.

Waukegan is 40 miles north of Chicago. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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