Dozens feared dead after US power plant explosion
Published 08/02/2010 | 05:00
A huge explosion at a US power plant yesterday might have left up to 50 people dead, authorities said.
There were fears that 250 people may have been injured in the blast at a gas-fired power station in Middletown, Connecticut.
Two people were confirmed dead last night but rescuers were continuing to comb the wreckage of the plant, which is owned by Kleen Energy Systems. At least four of the injured were in a critical condition.
"The reports vary from a few, several, to possibly as many as 50 dead," Brian Albert, a spokesman at Middletown's Middlesex hospital said. "They are in the process of search and rescue."
The explosion at the plant on the Connecticut River was felt up to 50km away and many people thought it was an earthquake. A grey plume of smoke rose into the sky over the factory.
One witness said there were "bodies everywhere" and others said more victims could be buried in rubble. More than 20 ambulances were sent to the scene and helicopters airlifted victims to hospitals.
A gas pipeline was said to have exploded and flames were seen shooting out of it.
The explosion was believed to have happened during a test of the 620 megawatt gas-fired power station's generating systems. The new plant would have been one of the largest in Connecticut, and up to 1,000 people had been working on its construction. It was due to come online on June 1.
Witnesses said homes were shaken and black smoke was seen over many miles after the explosion. A witness said the main plant building seemed to have been flattened.
Middletown police officer Kevin White said he did not know how many people were on site but there were "mass casualties".
Middletown, a college town, is 37km south of the state capital, Hartford. A fire department deputy marshal, Al Santostefano, said there were 50 workers on the site at the time of the blast. "It was a massive explosion," he said.
There were a number of buildings on the gas pipeline, and the explosion occurred at the back of the largest building on the site, he said.
"It's possible that there might be people trapped in the rubble. There was a lot of steel, from what I could see." He said rescue teams, including dogs, were trying to see "if there are any survivors". (© Daily Telegraph, London)