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Tennessee governor asks Trump for emergency aid after Nashville blast

The site of the vehicle explosion in downtown Nashville, Tennessee (Photo by AP)

Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has requested emergency federal assistance as the southern US state struggles with the aftermath of an apparent bombing in the city of Nashville on Christmas Day.

A recreational vehicle exploded early Friday morning in downtown Nashville in what has been labeled an “intentional act.” At least three people were taken to the hospital, and preliminary reports indicated that 41 businesses were damaged by the explosion.

In a letter to the out-going US President Donald Trump posted to Twitter on Saturday, Lee referred to the reported huge blast as an “attack” that is “believed to be a vehicle-born improvised explosive device.”

He further noted that the explosion, which occurred near a transmission building, impacted AT&T’s communication systems across the state as well as some areas across neighboring states of Kentucky and northern Alabama.

I have requested an emergency declaration from @POTUS to support ongoing efforts and relief.

— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) December 26, 2020

The governor further stated that the blast grounded inbound and outbound flights from Nashville International Airport and complicated the state’s network operations.

Lee added the Volunteer State spent $175 million between February 2019 and December 2020 responding to larger incidents and now needs federal assistance.

“Given these factors, the severity and magnitude of the current situation is such that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments,” he further wrote.

Nashville police officers on Friday responded to an emergency call of gunshots in the downtown area around 5:30 a.m. and found an RV with a recording warning that a bomb was going to explode. The vehicle exploded at around 6:30 a.m.

Following the incident, both Trump and President-elect Joe Biden were briefed on the bombing. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are currently engaged in investigating the blast.

Meanwhile, Nashville Mayor John Cooper also declared a civil emergency in the area and issued a curfew that began at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and will be lifted on December 27 at 4:30 p.m.

I have signed Executive Order 12 to issue a state of civil emergency proclaimed within the area bounded by James Robertson Parkway, 4th Ave north, Broadway and the Cumberland River. A curfew will start at 4:30pm, Friday Dec 25. and be lifted Sunday, December 27 at 4:30pm.

— Mayor John Cooper (@JohnCooper4Nash) December 25, 2020

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