Workers at a natural gas plant underconstruction were purging gas lines when a powerful explosion blewoff part of the building Sunday, killing multiple people andinjuring at least 14, officials said.
Betsy Hard, deputy commissioner of the state Department ofEmergency Management and Homeland Security, told The AssociatedPress that multiple people died but she did not know how many.
Al Santostefano, the deputy fire marshal in Middletown, said 50construction workers were in the section of the power plant wherethe explosion happened at 11:17 a.m. He said he did not know whatcaused the explosion.
Dogs were searching for victims in the rubble, but there were nosigns of life Sunday afternoon, he said.
"They are taking the building apart piece-by-piece now, thepart that collapsed and came in, they are taking that apart insections piece-by-piece, very carefully," he said.
The 620-megawatt plant was being built to produce energyprimarily using natural gas. Santostefano said workers for theconstruction company, O&G Industries, were purging the gas lines, aprocedure he called a "blow-down," when the explosion occurred.
Middlesex Hospital transferred one seriously injured person toHartford Hospital and was evaluating another Sunday afternoon whomight also be moved to Hartford for more intensive care, saidMiddlesex Hospital spokesman Brian Albert.
Two people were treated and released, and eight others werebeing treated for broken bones, abdominal injuries, blunt forcetrauma and other kinds of injuries consistent with being caught inan explosion, Albert said.
They did not expect to receive any more patients, he said Sundayafternoon, about four hours after the explosion.
A nursing supervisor from St. Francis Hospital and MedicalCenter in Hartford said they had no patients from the explosion,and Hartford Hospital had two that were brought directly thereafter the blast, in addition to the one transferred later fromMiddlesex.
Several ambulances were seen leaving the scene of the blastwithout their lights on.
The powerful blast shook houses for miles.
"I felt the house shake, I thought a tree fell on the house,"said Middletown resident Steve Clark.
Barrett Robbins-Pianka, who lives about a mile away and hasmonitored the project for years, said she was running outside andheard what she called "a tremendous boom."
"I thought it might be some test or something, but it wasreally loud, a definite explosion," she said.
Kleen Energy Systems LLC began construction on the power plantin February 2008.
The company is run by president and former Middletown CityCouncil member William Corvo. A message left at Corvo's home wasnot immediately returned.
Calls to Gordon Holk, general manager of Power Plant ManagementServices, which has a contract to manage the plant, weren'timmediately returned.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell was on her way Sunday afternoon to the siteafter speaking with Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, and calledout a specialized search and rescue team to help firefighters.
The state's Emergency Operations Center in Hartford also wasactivated, and the Department of Public Health was called toprovide tents at the scene for shelter and medical triage.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun