Underground blast near US synagogue sparks scare

Police said cause of blast was some kind of underground mechanical failure.

Updated: Apr 08, 2011, 14:13 PM IST

Los Angeles: About 100 people were evacuated on Thursday after an explosion near a Jewish temple in Santa Monica, but police said the cause was some kind of underground mechanical failure rather than a bomb.

Nobody was injured in the early morning blast near the Chabad House in Santa Monica, west of Los Angeles, which triggered initial reports of a pipe bomb, a spokesman said.

Officers evacuated homes and businesses nearby as they investigated the cause of the explosion, but later concluded that it was "some type of mechanical failure”, apparently underground.

"There`s some type of post that was embedded in the ground and as a result of the explosion it flew up into the air and landed on the apartment building next to the synagogue," said Santa Monica police spokesman Jay Trisler.

A statement on the Chabad House website said a service was going on at the time of the scare.

"During morning services today the police department came to Chabad House in response to a report of an explosion," it said.

"The men that were praying did not hear or feel anything. Rabbi Levitansky grabbed one of the new Torah scrolls so they can finish services, which they did at the corner of 17th and Santa Monica."

Bureau Report