No one known miss­ing in power plant ex­plo­sion; five dead, at least 12 hurt

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS -

MID­DLE­TOWN, Conn. (AP) — A fire of­fi­cial in Mid­dle­town, Conn., says no one is known to be miss­ing af­ter an ex­plo­sion at a power plant killed five peo­ple and in­jured a dozen or more.

Deputy Fire Mar­shal Al San­toste­fano told The As­so­ci­ated Press that crews will spend all night Sun­day go­ing through de­bris but there is no­body fire­fight­ers be­lieve is un­ac­counted for.

It had been feared that peo­ple were buried in the rub­ble. More than 50 peo­ple were in the area at the time of the ex­plo­sion. Mul­ti­ple con­trac­tors were work­ing on the project, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to ac­count for every­one.

The ex­plo­sion occurred dur­ing a test of nat­u­ral gas lines. It sounded like a sonic boom. It blew out walls of the un­der-construction power plant and set off a fire.

Al San­toste­fano, the deputy fire mar­shal in Mid­dle­town, said 50 construction work­ers were in the sec­tion of the power plant where the ex­plo­sion hap­pened at 11:17 a.m. He said he did not know what caused the ex­plo­sion.

Dogs were search­ing for vic­tims in the rub­ble, but there were no signs of life Sun­day af­ter­noon, he said.

“ They are tak­ing the build­ing apart piece-by-piece now, the part that col­lapsed and came in, they are tak­ing that apart in sec­tions piece-by-piece, very care­fully,” he said.

The 620-megawatt plant was be­ing built to pro­duce en­ergy pri­mar­ily us­ing nat­u­ral gas. San­toste­fano said work­ers for the construction com­pany, O&G In­dus­tries, were purg­ing the gas lines, a pro­ce­dure he called a “ blow-down,” when the ex­plo­sion occurred.

Mid­dle­sex Hospi­tal trans­ferred one se­ri­ously in­jured per­son to Hart­ford Hospi­tal and was eval­u­at­ing an­other Sun­day af­ter­noon who might also be moved to Hart­ford for more in­ten­sive care, said Mid­dle­sex Hospi­tal spokesman Brian Al­bert.

Two peo­ple were treated and re­leased, and eight oth­ers were be­ing treated for bro­ken bones, ab­dom­i­nal in­juries, blunt force trauma and other kinds of in­juries con­sis­tent with be­ing caught in an ex­plo­sion, Al­bert said.

They did not ex­pect to re­ceive any more pa­tients, he said Sun­day af­ter­noon, about four hours af­ter the ex­plo­sion.

A nurs­ing su­per­vi­sor from St. Fran­cis Hospi­tal and Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Hart­ford said they had no pa­tients from the ex­plo­sion, and Hart­ford Hospi­tal had two that were brought di­rectly there af­ter the blast, in ad­di­tion to the one trans­ferred later from Mid­dle­sex.

Sev­eral am­bu­lances were seen leav­ing the scene of the blast without their lights on.

The pow­er­ful blast shook houses up to 16 kilo­me­tres away.

“I felt the house shake, I thought a tree fell on the house,” said Mid­dle­town res­i­dent Steve Clark.

Bar­rett Rob­bins-Pianka, who lives about one-and-a-half kilo­me­tres away and has mon­i­tored the project for years, said she was run­ning out­side and heard what she called “a tremendous boom.”

“I thought it might be some test or some­thing, but it was re­ally loud, a def­i­nite ex­plo­sion,” she said.

Kleen En­ergy Sys­tems LLC be­gan construction on the power plant in Fe­bru­ary 2008.

The com­pany is run by pres­i­dent and for­mer Mid­dle­town City Coun­cil mem­ber William Corvo. A mes­sage left at Corvo’s home was not im­me­di­ately re­turned.

Calls to Gor­don Holk, gen­eral man­ager of Power Plant Man­age­ment Ser­vices, which has a con­tract to man­age the plant, weren’t im­me­di­ately re­turned.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell was on her way Sun­day af­ter­noon to the site af­ter speak­ing with Mid­dle­town Mayor Se­bas­tian Gi­u­liano, and called out a spe­cial­ized search and res­cue team to help fire­fight­ers.

The state’s Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter in Hart­ford also was ac­ti­vated, and the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health was called to pro­vide tents at the scene for shel­ter and med­i­cal triage.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

An aerial view of the af­ter­math of an ex­plo­sion at the Kleen En­ergy Sys­tems plant lo­cated along the Con­necti­cut River in Mid­dle­town, Conn., Sun­day.

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