PICTURES

Possible gas blast on New York college campus hurts 7 faculty

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A possible natural gas explosion blew out windows of a historic building at Nyack College north of New York City on Tuesday, injuring seven faculty members, a Rockland County sheriff's spokesman said.

"The whole first floor got blown out - shrapnel and glass flew everywhere," Mr William Barbera, chief of the sheriff's patrol, told Reuters.

After the explosion, which occurred at about noon (12am Singapore time), fire and bomb investigators rushed to the campus in Nyack, about 48km north of New York City.

Members of the Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc, which is owned by Con Edison, also were on the scene to shut off the gas, Barbera said.

"It appears to be a natural gas explosion, but it's still under investigation," Mr Barbera said.

Seven faculty members in the building, built in 1930 and called Sky Island Lodge, were injured, Mr Barbera said.

The seven injured people were taken to Nyack Hospital, where they were being treated in the medical center's emergency facilities, said spokeswoman Lauren Malone.

None of their injuries was believed to be life threatening, she said.

The campus was relatively empty as most students had left following graduation last month, Barbera said.

Sky Island Lodge, a 33-room Tudor-style stone mansion with turrets and a winding staircase, was used to house refugee children from Europe during World War Two.

It is now used for administrative purposes.