Widespread outages continue after Nashville motor home blast

The governor of US state of Tennessee says 41 businesses were damaged in the massive Christmas morning explosion.

Widespread communications outages continued in the US state of Tennessee on Saturday after a motor home exploded near an AT&T office in downtown Nashville early on Christmas morning, damaging several buildings in the area.

Police emergency systems across Tennessee and nearby Kentucky, as well as Nashville’s COVID-19 community hotline, remained out of service, The Associated Press news agency reported on Saturday morning.

“Our teams continue to work around the clock on recovery efforts from yesterday morning’s explosion in Nashville,” AT&T said in a statement.

The company did not say exactly how many customers were affected by the outages.

It said teams were on site to try to restore service and two portable cell sites have been set up in downtown Nashville, but added that challenges including an overnight fire that required an evacuation of the building persist.

Federal and local law enforcement agencies are investigating the powerful explosion, which occurred about 6:30am local time (12:30 GMT) on Friday.

Officials said a recreational vehicle exploded after a recorded message warned that “a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes”.

The blast, which police said they believe was “an intentional act”, damaged numerous buildings in the downtown area and sent debris and large plumes of black smoke into the air. Three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

‘Shocking’ damage

On Saturday morning, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said he had toured the site of the explosion.

“The damage is shocking and it is a miracle that no residents were killed,” he tweeted.

Lee said he sent a letter to Donald Trump requesting that the US president issue an emergency disaster declaration to get support from the federal government to help in the recovery efforts.

The governor said preliminary reports showed that 41 businesses were damaged.

“Federal assistance under the Stafford Act is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of the State, local governments, disaster relief organizations and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses,” the letter reads.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said Saturday that preliminary information showed that 41 businesses were damaged in the explosion [Nashville Fire Department via Reuters]

The FBI is in charge of the continuing investigation, and officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also involved.

They have not released any information yet about a motive or who was responsible.

The mayor of Nashville, John Cooper, on Friday instituted a curfew in the downtown area where the blast occurred. It is expected to be lifted at 4:30pm local time (22:30 GMT) on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Nashville police Chief John Drake urged business owners and residents affected by the investigation to remain patient as it continues.

“The federal government is in charge and they will collapse the scene as much as possible as soon as they can,” Drake said in a video posted on Twitter.

On Friday, the police chief told reporters that investigators at the scene “found tissue that we believe could be remains”.

No new information regarding the tissue was made available on Saturday.

Read the full article at: aljazeera.com