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Afghan Officials Search For Bodies After Powerful Blast - 2002-08-09

Officials in Afghanistan are searching for more bodies after a powerful blast ripped through a construction company warehouse in the eastern city of Jalalabad. Initial reports say as many as 20 people may have been killed and scores of others injured. There are conflicting reports about the cause of the explosion.

The explosion rocked the western outskirts of Jalalabad shortly after noon on Friday. Witnesses describe a powerful blast that severely damaged more than 50 nearby houses.

The explosion occurred at a warehouse complex run by the Afghan Construction and Logistics Unit, a company that builds roads and bridges.

Officials at the governor's office in Jalalabad said explosives stored at the warehouse had accidentally blown up. They ruled out terrorism.

However, a local military commander, Hazrat Ali, said the blast may have been set off intentionally. He said some officials of the construction company have been detained for questioning.

The explosion was less than half-a-kilometer from the Duronta Dam, the main source of hydro-electric power for the region.