Large blast reported at New Hampshire ball bearing plant

BOSTON Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:11pm EST

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BOSTON (Reuters) - At least ten people were transported to a southern New Hampshire hospital after a "major explosion" at a ball bearing manufacturer on Monday, according to state and local officials who set up an emergency command center near the site.

The fire department in nearby Jaffrey, New Hampshire, said on its Twitter feed that it had been called to respond to a "major explosion" at the New Hampshire Ball Bearings Inc location in Peterborough, located about 75 miles northwest of Boston.

Ten people were brought to Monadnock Community Hospital, with two others sent on to other facilities, Laura Gingras, a hospital spokeswoman, told reporters.

"We have received a number of patients here at Monadnock Community Hospital," Gingras said. "We are treating some patients here and are transferring some out."

None of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening, said Kathy Gerrity, assistant to the president at New Hampshire Ball Bearings.

"The building has been evacuated and we have followed our emergency procedures," Gerrity said. About 700 people work at the site over three shifts, she added, though she was not able to say how many were at the factory at the time of the blast.

Live images on New Hampshire's WMUR television showed emergency vehicles parked in front of the facility and the first-floor windows of the building had been blown out by the blast, which occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m. EST.

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan said the state had opened an emergency operations center at the site.

Peterborough Fire Department officials could not immediately be reached for comment and officials at the state police declined to comment.

New Hampshire Ball Bearings is a unit of Japan's Minebea Co Ltd.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by James Dalgleish and G Crosse)

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