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Police close off an area damaged by an explosion on Christmas morning in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Federal prosecutors and Nashville police on Saturday said they are following more than 500 leads and tips in their investigation into an explosion that rocked downtown Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas morning.

The big picture: The explosion, which injured at least three people, caused widespread telephone, internet and other outages in central Tennessee and in parts of neighboring states. Federal agents searched the home of a possible person of interest in the Nashville suburb of Antioch Saturday, per multiple reports.

Before Friday's explosion that authorities believe was an "intentional act," witnesses reportedly heard a recorded voice from the RV, saying, "Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode." 

  • The voice then started a 15-minute countdown and the RV played music.
  • Officers, responding to an early morning call on Friday for shots fired, encountered the RV as the recording played, police said. The officers began evacuating nearby buildings.
  • The RV exploded around 6:30 a.m. CT, according to authorities.
  • Lee said preliminary reports show at least 41 buildings and businesses were damaged.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Saturday that tissue samples found at the scene were human remains, per AP.

For the record: A curfew issued by Mayor John Cooper for the downtown Nashville area affected by the blast remains in place until Sunday.

  • Governor Bill Lee said on Saturday that he has asked President Trump for federal assistance in the state's relief efforts.
  • The White House did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment, but a spokesperson previously said that Trump had been briefed on the incident.

What they're saying: "We will get to the bottom of this [and] we will find out the story of this individual or individuals ... of this ultimate Scrooge, who on Christmas morning instead of spreading joy and cheer, decided to spread devastation and destruction," U.S. attorney Donald Cochran said Saturday afternoon.

  • Nashville Metro Police Chief John Drake added that "Nashville is safe. We feel and know that we have no known threats at this time."
  • Lee tweeted after visiting the site of the explosion said that the "damage is shocking and it is a miracle that no residents were killed."

Authorities said they're not ready to identify any suspects or persons of interest.

  • "We have over 500 investigative leads, and we're following up with every one of those so there are a number of individuals that we're looking at," said Doug Korneski, FBI special agent in charge of the Memphis field office.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Capitol secured hours after mob breach

A protester sits in the Senate chamber on Jan. 6. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The U.S. Capitol was secured hours after a mob supporting President Trump violently breached the building, causing a lockdown and evacuation of lawmakers, staff and reporters.

Where it stands: The Senate and House have reconvened to finish certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."