An explosion has caused a dormitory to collapse in southern Turkey, killing at least 17 schoolgirls.

Officials in Konya province, in the village of Taskent, say they believe a gas leak caused the explosion in the three-story building early Friday while the girls slept.

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay says 27 girls have been pulled from the rubble, some with serious burn injuries.  Rescue workers say they have been able to hear the voices of victims still buried beneath the rubble.  Officials fear as many as a dozen more girls may still be trapped under the flattened building.

Officials say more than 40 girls between the ages of eight and 16 had been staying at the dormitory while attending classes on the Koran.

The building belongs to a religious foundation.

Local television showed residents trying to remove the debris - some with their bare hands - to get to the injured girls.

Witnesses say the explosion sent a wall of flames shooting through the building before it fell.

One girl, Merve Avci, tells the Anatolia news agency she smelled gas just before the explosion.  She also said some of the teachers had gone to investigate a loose gas pipe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.