A Nebraska explosion injured 10 and left several others trapped inside an industrial plant. Authorities confirmed 38 employees were present when an explosion rocked the Omaha International Nutrition plant. At least two workers were critically injured in the blast.
Interim Fire Chief Bernard Kanger said the accident “was a very dangerous situation and continues to be very dangerous.” Although he confirmed at least 10 people were taken to local hospitals for treatment, he did not verify how many are still trapped inside.
Omaha.com reports that up to 15 people were trapped inside the building. However, their current status is unknown. First responders from several agencies are on scene. Unfortunately, extensive damage has hampered the search and rescue effort.
As the search continues, many family members have gathered outside the plant. Kari Cook’s boyfriend John Broderick was inside the plant when the explosion occurred. She received a text message just after 10 am stating: “Major accident. I’m hurt and trapped. Love you.”
Cook responded to the text, but she has not received a reply. She continues to wait for information in the plant’s parking lot. The Omaha Police Department chaplain is on hand to provide moral support.
Although the cause of the Nebraska explosion is unknown, a spokesman said there were no explosives stored at the plant. Witnesses said they observed smoke coming out of a grain elevator, which was visibly damaged.
International Nutrition manufacturers animal feed and supplements. The company has been in business for over 40 years, providing nutritional supplements and feed to manufacturers and producers worldwide.
According to OSHA standards, facilities that handle grains are labeled as a “high hazard” industries, as grain dust is “highly combustible.” Throughout the last 35 years, OSHA has recorded over 500 explosions originating in plants that use grains.
OSHA has cited International Nutrition for safety violations on numerous occasions. In 2002, an employee at the Omaha plant was crushed when he fell into a mixing machine. In the process of investigation, OSHA discovered five safety violations that were labeled as “serious.”
In 2012, the company received six more “serious” violations, which included first aid, product handling, and several equipment violations.
OSHA labels a violation as serious if it has the potential to cause “death or serious physical harm.”
Although the fire has been extinguished, the Nebraska explosion caused extensive damage to the plant. The Journal Star reports several employees who made it out of the building said there are at least two people still trapped inside.
[Image via Wikimedia]