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After releasing a statement (since removed from the internet) confirming that at least 7 people had died and six are still missing after Thursday night’s gas explosion and fire in San Bruno last night, San Bruno city officials are now backing off from that statement, saying instead that 4 remain confirmed dead, and that they can’t speak to the number missing.

At a press conference at 8 AM Sunday morning, San Bruno police chief Neil Tedford said that “the search (for victims) continues in that area and will continue. In terms of the status of additional victims, corrected information from the San Mateo county coroners office had led to the discovery of additional remains. Those remains still need to undergo additional testing.”

San Mateo county coroner Robert Foucrault emphasizes that “We have four affirmed fatalities” three of which have been identified.

“We have found remains at a location and we are in the process of conducting forensic tests” Foucrault repeated throughout the conference, also repeating that “as far as the remains that have been reported, we are still in the process of forensic tests.” He would not discuss where the were discovered, and said they hoped to offer more information Sunday afternoon.

When officials were pressed on why the count of the missing had increased to five or six from initial reports that everyone was accounted for, San Bruno City manager Connie Jackson said only that “we have no additional information regarding missing persons and the count. We will discuss that when we have additional information.”

“It’s sort of a moving target” said San Bruno mayor in an interview with KRON4’s Christine Connoly, when questioned about the conflicting reports on the numbers of dead and missing*. “You have to understand that this wasn’t only a fire, it’s a blast site…you have to understand that there are a lot of other issues involved, it’s not just identifying remains, it’s more than that.”

*If those links stop working, you can see them here and here

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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