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Youngstown apartment building ordered evacuated due to structural concerns following deadly gas explosion

Wrongful death lawsuit filed after Youngstown building explosion
Wrongful death lawsuit filed after Youngstown building explosion 02:18

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio. (KDKA/AP) -- Residents have been ordered to evacuate a 16-story apartment building in Youngstown, Ohio due to concerns about the stability of a neighboring building that was severely damaged by a deadly natural gas explosion last month.

A directive issued Monday by Youngstown officials gives residents of the International Towers building 72 hours to leave the site. The order came after an engineering firm determined that the neighboring Realty Tower building remains structurally unsafe and is in "danger of imminent collapse."

About 170 people live in the International Towers, and city officials planned to meet with them Tuesday to discuss relocation efforts and help determine their needs.

The May 28 explosion blew out much of the ground floor of Realty Tower, killing a bank employee and injuring several others. Part of the ground floor collapsed into its basement and sent the façade across the street. 

Bricks, glass and other debris littered the sidewalk outside the 13-story building, which had a Chase Bank branch at street level and apartments in upper floors.

A crew working in the building's basement area intentionally cut a gas line, not knowing it was pressurized, according to a preliminary finding by the National Transportation Safety Board. Investigators are still working to determine why the pipe was pressurized.

Wrongful death lawsuit filed by family of man killed in blast

Family members of a man from Penn Hills killed in the gas explosion in Youngstown, Ohio, less than two weeks ago are now suing.

Akil Drake, 27, was working at the J.P. Morgan Chase branch in the Realty Tower in Youngstown on May 28 when an explosion ripped through the building.

Drake's mother and sister filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Saturday. The complaint said the 2015 Penn Hills graduate was hurt during the explosion and couldn't get out of the building. The document said he died in pain, afraid, and alone.

The lawsuit accuses several companies of negligence, including the building owner, the construction company working in the basement that day and the utility companies that own the natural gas line.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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