Gas Blast Kills Five, Injures One Dozen; Five Unaccounted

A huge explosion at a power plant under construction in Connecticut injured 12 and killed five, said the Associated Press (AP). The blast destroyed walls at the Kleen Energy Systems power plant in Middletown, which is about 20 miles south of Hartford, Connecticut, the AP explained.

The blast occurred during the testing of natural gas lines yesterday; five workers are known to have been killed in the explosion, said the AP. Crews and search dogs were working their way through the rubble in search of others who might be injured or killed, added the AP, which noted that, according to Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano, somewhere between 50 to 60 people were believed to have been in the area when the blast occurred. Because multiple contractors were working at the plant, it remains unclear how many people were actually at the locale.

“I think a majority of them did survive,” Santostefano said, quoted the AP. “Most of them did walk away,” Santostefano added. According to NPR, the rescue team is trying to figure out how to search through an unstable area in plant and police in Middletown are working on compiling a list of those workers on the scene at the time of the explosion.

Mayor Sebastian Giuliano called the explosion, which occurred at 11:17 Sunday morning, a gas explosion, noting that the cause was not clear, said the AP. While Santostefano believed about 50-to-60 people were on-site at the plant at the time of the blast, Mayor Giuliano pointed out that anywhere from 100 to 200 workers could be on location during a normal weekday, reported the AP.

The New York Times explained that the discrepancy in numbers could be affected by the many contractors and sub-contractors working at the plant on any given day; that there is no complete listing of these workers; and that, citing Giuliano, the accident occurred on Super Bowl Sunday. “It’s one thing to say we don’t know who was on the job in the morning after the incident,” said, Giuliano, “But at this stage of the game to still be fuddling around with this is extremely frustrating, quoted the New York Times. “We’re trying to figure out who was on the site today and is home now, sitting at home watching the Super Bowl, and who might be still under the rubble,” Giuliano explained, reported the New York Times.

The town is home to about 45,000 people and the blast is considered the worst in its history, said the New York Times.

The plant, said the AP, is a 620-megawatt plant, and is being built for the purpose of energy production, using—for the most part—natural gas. According to Santostefano, the workers there Sunday, who were employed by O&G Industries, were” purging” gas lines at the time of the blast, said the AP. Construction initiated in February 2008 when Kleen Energy Systems signed a “capacity deal” with Connecticut Light and Power for the electricity it produced, explained the AP, which also wrote that construction was expected to be completed by mid-year.

Some feel that a number of those on-the-job, escaped unharmed Sunday; however, said the New York Times, search and rescue will continue until mid-week. In the meantime, according to NPR, citing the New York Times, five people are still unaccounted.

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