Florida blast: 21 people hurt as explosion destroys vacant restaurant in shopping centre

An explosion ripped through a vacant restaurant at a shopping centre in Florida injuring 21 people, according to authorities. 

The blast happened on Saturday morning at a shopping centre in Plantation, west of Fort Lauderdale in Broward County.

The restaurant was destroyed and nearby businesses and cars were damaged.

Firefighters found ruptured gas lines afterward, though authorities said it was too early to determine a cause.

Two of those hurt were said to have suffered serious wounds.

However, a police official later said none of the injuries were life threatening.

“We thought it was thunder at first, and then we felt the building shake and things started falling. I looked outside and it was almost like the world was ending,” said Alex Carver, a worker at a deli across the street from the explosion. “It was nuts, man. It was crazy.”

Plantation fire and police departments said on Twitter that the street was closed to traffic, while he fire department called it a gas explosion with “multiple patients”.

Images from the scene showed a building completely decimated and surrounded by debris.

Sections of the roof were completely gone while panes of glass had been cast away in the incident.

​Reports suggested at least 20 people injured, two of whom were in a critical condition according to CNN.

A statement from Plantation Police said: “All stores and businesses in the area of the Fountains Plaza and the Plantation Marketplace plaza near LA Fitness will be shut down until further notice until Fire Personnel can determine that it is safe to return. Please do not come into this area if possible.”