4 hurt in explosion in Univ. of Missouri building

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- A hydrogen gas explosion inside a University of Missouri biochemistry lab injured four people on Monday, officials said.

The blast, which blew out windows and melted blinds, happened after 2 p.m. on the third floor of Schweitzer Hall on the Columbia campus. Officials said one of the victims had life-threatening injuries.

The explosion "is believed to have been caused by a spontaneous combustion of gases including hydrogen and nitrogen that were being used in a research experiment," the university said in a statement.

The identities of the victims was not immediately disclosed. A campus spokesman said he did not know if those injured were professors, students or graduate researchers.

With most of the flagship campus' 30,000 students home for summer break, both the campus and Schweitzer Hall were largely vacant Monday. No classes were scheduled inside the building.

Schweitzer Hall, which dates to 1912, is located near the intersection of University Avenue and College Avenue, one of Columbia's main thoroughfares.

More details were not immediately available. Columbia Fire Captain Eric Hartman said the explosion and resulting small fire were under investigation.

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