SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

January 21, 2014

Two deaths confirmed in Omaha plant explosion

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An explosion yesterday morning that brought down part of an animal-feed processing plant in Omaha left two people dead and 10 others seriously hurt, authorities said.

The search for bodies in the crippled International Nutrition plant progressed slowly yesterday, but the death toll wasn’t likely to get higher.

Omaha police Lt. Darci Tierney said yesterday evening that all 38 of the workers who were in the building at the time had been accounted for. Through much of the day, authorities declined to say how many died while they sorted out what happened.

Officials say two died, 10 were hospitalized, and seven were hurt but refused treatment. The other 19 workers escaped.

Search-and-rescue experts worked into last night to stabilize the building. It wasn’t immediately clear whether their work would continue into today.

“We haven’t cleared the building yet because of the significant risk to our people,” interim fire Chief Bernie Kanger said.

Authorities don’t know what caused the blast, but Kanger noted that there were no hazardous chemicals at the plant.

International Nutrition makes products that are added to livestock and poultry feed to make them more nutritious.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will determine the cause.

The explosion knocked out the lights in the building and sent workers scrambling for safety.

Nate Lewis said he was on the first floor when he heard the explosion. The building went dark, so the 21-year-old used light from his cellphone to make his way across the production floor and outside.

“I was a production line worker, although I don’t know if I want to be that anymore,” said Lewis, who’s worked at International Nutrition for about four months.

Worker Jamar White said he heard a loud crack and looked up to see the back wall of the building collapsing.

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