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Gas Leak Empties Reagan Building

March 2, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A natural gas line rupture forced authorities to evacuate the Ronald Reagan Building on Tuesday just moments before Defense Secretary William Cohen was to deliver a speech there.

After emergency sirens sounded and the public address system warned of a ``fire emergency,″ Cohen and more than 100 others, including dozens of European military and defense officials, were sent out of the building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House.

Cohen returned to the Pentagon a short time later without delivering the speech. The leak was quickly fixed, and people were allowed back into the building.

Authorities said a construction worker struck a three-inch gas line in an alley between the Reagan building and the John Wilson District Building shortly before 10 a.m. The Wilson Building is under renovation.

There were no injuries.

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