A gas explosion ripped through a Baltimore neighborhood on Monday, killing at least one person, injuring four and trapping children as the blast destroyed at least three homes, firefighters said.
Fire officials described it as a natural gas explosion but said the exact cause was under investigation.
The blast destroyed three brick row homes and ripped open the wall of another, spreading debris throughout the neighborhood. Rescuers picked through the rubble, searching for victims with their hands and hand tools, Baltimore City Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams told reporters at the scene.
One woman was killed, four people were hospitalized in serious condition, and firefighters were trying to rescue a sixth person, fire officials said.
At one point at least five people were trapped, some of them children, the Baltimore Firefighters IAFF Local 734 said on Twitter.
Neighbours responding to the blast dug through rubble and called out for victims.
One neighbour told the Baltimore Sun he could hear shouts from trapped children.
"Come get us! We're stuck!" came the cries, Kevin Matthews told the Sun.
Matthews found one person buried from the neck down and another sheltering in a closet, the Sun said.
"You knew it was something catastrophic," Dean Jones told WBFF television about hearing the blast. "I didn't think. I didn't grab shoes. I took off running. I followed the smoke. I started yelling to come help."
Jones and several other neighbours freed at least one woman from the scene.
"Once they said a kid was in there, I lost it. I said I had to get in there now," Jones told WBAL television.
But he also wanted no special accolades, saying, "I am not a hero, I'm a human."
Neighbours said their windows were blown out and doors blasted off the hinges, the Sun reported.