Sunday, February 7, 2010

Report: 50 dead, 250 injured in Connecticut power plant blast

MIDDLETOWN, CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) — A large explosion rocked a power plant in the city of Middletown in Connecticut on Sunday, killing at least two people and injuring scores of others. News reports say up to 50 people may have died.

The natural gas explosion happened around 11.26 a.m. local time at the Kleen Energy Power Plant on River Road, a 620 megawatt gas-fired power plant which is currently under construction. A Middletown Police Department official said testing was ongoing at the plant at the time of the explosion, “but, obviously something went wrong,” he said. “A lot of mutual aid is coming in.”

Plant manager Gordon Holk confirmed at least two workers had been killed. He said crews were conducting gas blows, a practice used to clean pipelines. Holk said there were injuries, and said an unknown number of people are still unaccounted for. “A search and rescue of the rubble is underway,” he said.

The manager said the explosion caused damage to the construction site and nearby buildings. Holk said an investigation into the cause of the blast is underway.

Unconfirmed reports, which BNO News was not immediately able to verify with officials, suggested that as many as 100 people were injured.

WFSB-TV reported, citing sources, that at least 250 people were injured. Sky News, citing a local hospital, reported that up to 50 people had been killed. There was no immediate official confirmation.

Connecticut Governor Rell is en-route to the scene of the explosion and is expected to arrive there around 3 p.m. EST, according to Donna Tommelleo, a spokeswoman for the governor. Governor Rell has spoken by telephone with the Mayor of Middletown and the Chief of the Middletown Fire Department.

Tommelleo said Governor Rell has activated the Emergency Operations Center in Hartford which is being staffed by the state Department of Emergency Management, Homeland Security (DEMHS), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the National Guard and the Connecticut State Police. Tommelleo said Governor Rell will assess the situation when she arrives, and did not know if she will declare a state of emergency.

Governor Rell also activated the Urban Search and Rescue Team. The Department of Public Health is providing tents at the scene for shelter and medical triage.

The Middletown Fire Department said departments from all over the region are assisting local emergency responders, and hospitals in the area are put on stand by to receive casualties. The blast, which was felt as many as ten miles away, caused a fire which is now out.

Fire department officials are planning to hold a news conference before 3 p.m. EST.
More at : Report: 50 dead, 250 injured in Connecticut power plant blast

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