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Police: 3 dead in Israel blast

June 17, 2011 1:48 A.M. (Updated: June 17, 2011 10:46 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A gas explosion in the Israeli town of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, killed at least three people and injured others overnight Thursday, an Israeli police spokesman said.

"An explosion occurred in a four-storey building in Netanya, killing at least three people and injuring others," Micky Rosenfeld said.

"We have clearly determined after an inquiry that a gas canister caused the explosion," he added.

Rosenfeld was unable to say whether the canister had exploded accidentally. Netanya has a history of settling of scores by the Israeli underworld.

Israeli public radio reported that the injured numbered 33, several in serious condition.

The radio said the powerful blast flattened the building on Independence Square in the town center. There was a restaurant, the Yotvata, on the ground floor.

Residents were buried under the rubble and cranes were trying to get them out, witnesses told the radio station. One said there was a strong smell of gas hanging over the debris.

Dozens of ambulances were sent to the scene.
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