Early on Christmas morning, a parked camper van exploded in the US city of Nashville, Tennessee. The explosion injured three people and knocked out communications systems across the entire state.
While no fatalities have been recorded as of yet, some US reports say possible human remains were found near the blast site.
Before the break of dawn, on Friday, Nashville police officers were notified of gunshot sounds being heard in the area of Second Avenue, a strip of honky tonks (country bars), restaurants and small shops. Authorities also say they received a phone call warning that a parked recreational vehicle (RV) was set to explode in 15 minutes. The RV itself began broadcasting a message, apparently pre recorded and on repeat.
The message, as captured in a recording broadcast later by local television news stations, said: “This area must be evacuated now. This area must be evacuated now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now.”
The blast caused widespread communications outages that took down police emergency systems and grounded holiday travel at the city’s airport. The explosion sent plumes of smoke billowing above the city blew out windows in shops and offices for several blocks, left three people hospitalized — and Nashville has shaken.
While the police could not immediately indicate a possible motive or the target; they allege that the incident was deliberate. It was also deeply unsettling, coming in an area that draws thousands of people nightly. But who set it off and why remained unknown as officials began to make sense of the blast.
A resident of the area said the scene of destruction was like an apocalyptic movie.
“The fireball went all the way up past the AT&T, above the AT&T building. Everything just, I mean, everything shook. It was quite the blast," said another resident.
Three cars were set afire. Trees were down. Bricks and glass were everywhere.
Nashville mayor Cooper announced a state of civil emergency on areas surrounding the blast site. A curfew has also been imposed until Sunday for response and relief efforts.