Blast Destroys Connecticut Church

A powerful blast leveled a decades-old Ukrainian church in this eastern Connecticut town just before 7 a.m. on Friday, shaking nearby buildings and sending debris hundreds of feet from the scene.

Authorities said there were no injuries and all workers at St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church (search) have been accounted for, including its pastor Rev. Kiril Manolev and his family.

Manolev, his pregnant wife, Susan, and a their young son live in a home adjacent to the church and were evacuated safely, said the Rev. Michael Dubovici, an official with the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, the seat of the church's diocese.

"At this point we have to wait and see what will happen," Dubovici said.

The brick church was built in 1955 and serves 55 families. Members had been preparing for an annual Ukrainian festival in Stamford this weekend.

State police spokesman, Sgt. J. Paul Vance, said the area had been cordoned off and the highway was shut down in both directions.

"Everyone is accounted for and there have been no injuries," Vance said. "The state police canine unit came in and searched to make sure."

Vance said there was no immediate indication of what caused the explosion although the church did have a propane tank inside for cooking.

The state fire marshal was called to the scene as well utility company crews.