Human remains found near blast site
Officials have discovered possible human remains near the explosion site that rocked the US city of Nashville at 6:32am on Christmas morning, damaging dozens of buildings and injuring at least three people.
The human remains have been sent to the medical examiner's office for analysis, CBS News reports.
Police believe the blast was deliberate, and the FBI is now investigating.
Officers were responding to reports of gunshots being fired when they discovered a suspicious vehicle, an RV, parked in the downtown area.
"Whilst they responded, they encountered an RV that had a recording saying a potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes," Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake said.
"Upon hearing that, officers decided to evacuate the buildings nearby. They began knocking on doors, making announcements to get people safe.
"Shortly after that, the RV exploded."
The bomb squad was on its way to the scene when the explosion happened.
One officer was knocked to the ground, and three people ended up in hospital, though thankfully their injuries were not life-threatening.
"We do believe that the explosion was an intentional act," said police spokesman Don Aaron.
After the blast, firefighters were instructed to pull back two blocks from the site of the explosion in case there were other bombs.
PHOTOS: CBS affiliate @NC5 captures aerial view over scene of Christmas morning explosion in Nashville, which authorities believe to be an "intentional act" https://t.co/sP9YfbM8vb pic.twitter.com/MCII7b2U4Q— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 25, 2020
We’re starting to see pictures of the damage as the sun comes up. Something caused a lot of damage this morning in Downtown Nashville. Still waiting for an update from authorities.— Aaron Cantrell (@AaronTheNewsGuy) December 25, 2020
📸: James Green pic.twitter.com/A0NKh3TwPf
These are pictures from 2nd Avenue south. Windows were broken out from explosion area to Broadway. Please AVOID this area! Media staging is at 2nd Avenue south and KVB. pic.twitter.com/tocdpHWFgj— Nashville Fire Dept (@NashvilleFD) December 25, 2020
We’re getting a view from the sky of the damage in Downtown Nashville from the explosion this morning. pic.twitter.com/s9hBm8sWUK— Aaron Cantrell (@AaronTheNewsGuy) December 25, 2020
In a statement posted on social media, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said the explosion occurred around Second Avenue and Commerce Street.
He confirmed that federal, state and local law enforcement were all investigating, and believed it was a deliberate act.
"We will supply all of the resources needed to determine what happened and who was responsible," Mr Lee said.
"Please join me in praying for those who were injured, and we thank all of our first responders who acted so quickly this morning."
"Metro Police confirm the source of the explosion came from a vehicle," said Nashville Mayor John Cooper.
"The cause of the explosion is under investigation with help from federal authorities. Police will share updates as they become available, and is restricting downtown traffic.
"Be safe, Nashville. Thank you to our emergency personnel for your quick response."
Betsy Williams owns a building across the street from where the RV was parked. Speaking to The Tennessean, she said it had been there since the previous night.
Ms Williams said she heard gunshots at about 4:30am and called the police. After that, the RV started to play a recording.
"Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode," the recording said, before launching into a 15-minute countdown.
"Whoever did it did give fair warning," Ms Williams noted.
The area has now been sealed off, and law enforcement is going door to door with dogs in search of any additional bombs. There is no indication that any exist.
Mr Cooper told reporters about 20 buildings had been impacted by the explosion.
"It looks like a bomb went off," he said.
"One more event in Nashville's 2020."
Originally published as Human remains found near blast site