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Teen dead as gas explosions rock US towns

NEW YORK: A teenager was killed and 25 residents injured after a series of gas explosions and fires rocked three US towns north of Boston, according to the state government.

Massachusetts police said they had responded to 70 reports of fires, explosions and the smell of gas that began Thursday afternoon and triggered mass evacuations across the east coast towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover

“The incidents have been traumatic,” said Governor Charlie Baker late Thursday, confirming along with several other officials that a teenager was killed in a car when a chimney crashed onto it.

Some 8,600 homes were directly affected, according to local utility company Columbia Gas, which said “we are focused on providing as much support as possible to our customers, residents and communities,” in a statement issued Friday.

Images on local television showed two houses that were destroyed and several more on fire, as well as dozens of emergency vehicles on the streets.

“The focus remains on ensuring the public safety,” said Baker. “Once that’s complete, we will work with the federal government and others to investigate how this occurred and hold the appropriate parties accountable for their actions.”

Columbia Gas will likely be at the center of the investigation. North Andover Mayor Andrew Maylor tweeted overnight that the “unprecedented” incidents were caused by “over pressurization of gas lines” in the three cities.

Schools, courts and many public services were to remain closed on Friday.

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