At least 10 people have been seriously injured when a roof collapsed at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant on Chicago’s South Side. The collapse came as a result of an explosion, which is at this stage believed to have been caused by a buildup of methane gas, according to WGNTV.
“There has been an explosion in the sludge concentration building at the Calumet water reclamation plant,” the initial statement from the Chicago Fire Department reported. “There are injuries. Emergency crews are on the scene.”
While eight of the victims injured in the collapse were relatively easy to pull from the rubble, the last two proved much more difficult. As the first eight were taken to hospital, firefighters worked to free the last two men, with one being rescued approximately 20 minutes after the emergency services arrived at the scene.
“The first individual was removed quickly,” Commissioner Jose Santiago said. “But we had a problem. We had another individual that was buried and entombed.”
The final man took a total of 70 people, including special teams, and over six hours to rescue. Emergency services had to dig six feet down and tunnel a further 40 feet to reach him. He had been pinned down by a concrete beam that had collapsed onto his leg during the explosion. He was fortunate enough to suffer nothing more than a “broken jaw and a fractured leg,” officials said. He did not need the limb to be amputated.
All 10 injured men had been in the facility’s “sludge concentration building”‘ for sewage treatment at the time that the explosion occurred.
The explosion caused just part of the roof of the building to collapse, and emergency workers are sifting through the rubble. That building remains closed off as a result of the danger it could still pose in its state.
URGENT RESCUE: Firefighters in Chicago are searching for as many as three people trapped inside a city water reclamation plant after a reported explosion and partial roof collapse, with aerial footage showing at least one rescue. Stay with @ABC for updates https://t.co/9rjRZ17dX1 pic.twitter.com/FmCv3CIwOL
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) August 30, 2018
Media helicopters were asked to leave during the rescue, with the explanation that the noise was preventing emergency workers from being able to hear the people trapped in the building.
At this stage, the cause of the explosion is under investigation, but the water plant has been allowed to remain open and operating in the meantime since authorities have determined the remaining buildings not to have been compromised in the explosion. Authorities have added that there is no threat to public safety.