Early Monday morning, January 20, a plant accident in Omaha resulted in at least 10 injuries, with more employees trapped inside. A possible industrial explosion occurred around 10:00 a.m. at an Omaha plant known as International Nutrition. So far, 2 out of the 10 people hospitalized have sustained critical injuries.
Around noon, additional plant workers were reported to still be trapped inside. There is no exact number yet, as emergency responders are still hard at work. Interim Fire Chief Bernard Kanger spoke with reporters, stating that 38 people were at work during the time of the accident. He was unable to say how many were still trapped inside or if any fatalities were involved.
Several neighboring businesses stated they saw dust rising out of a damaged grain elevator, yet no explosion sound was heard. The brown smoke soon turned a dark black color, giving more clues to the damage happening inside.
Immediate Aftermath of the Accident
The cause of the accident still remains unclear, but it appears an explosion may be the source of the damage, as many rescuers and nearby workers saw smoke and flames at the scene. A search and rescue mission has been launched, but due to the severe damage to the plant, the team ran into difficulties.
A woman reported that she received a text from her boyfriend trapped inside the plant around 10:09 a.m. His message said a major accident happened and that he was hurt. She, along with many other family members and friends, is still waiting outside the plan to be reconnected with her boyfriend.
The Nebraska Medical Center is currently treating four of the men who were injured in the plant explosion. The list of injuries include a collapsed lung, minor injuries and hypothermia. Alegent Creighton is treating three patients, two of which are listed to be in critical and serious conditions. Bergan Mercy Medical Center is tending to three more of the injured workers, however no updates on their conditions have been made available.
With only 10 official injuries reported, it still remains unclear how many more of the 38 workers are still trapped inside the smoking plant and if any casualties have occurred.
About International Nutrition
International Nutrition is an animal supplements and feed products manufacturer and has served United States feed companies for more than four decades. Grain plants are considered some of a high hazard, due to the risk of grain dust explosions. OSHA has reported more than 500 explosions in these types of facilities in the past three and a half decades.
The company was fined for six reportedly "serious" violations in early 2012 alone. Though no information is listed about these specific fines, violations happened when a known workplace danger compromises the safety or health of employees.
For more information on the Omaha plant explosion, be sure to check in for updates on our blog.