(Reuters) - Two people were killed and one was injured on Monday in an explosion at a metal recycling plant in southern Illinois possibly caused by a mortar round, according to police and the coroner's office.
The blast occurred at about 6:30 a.m. local time in Granite City, about 8 miles (13 km) northeast of St. Louis at Totall Metal Recycling, a company that gets some of its material from the military, Granite City police said.
The explosion is believed to have been caused by a mortar round, Granite City Police Major Jeff Connor told a news conference.
"There's nothing malicious," Granite City Police Chief Rich Miller said, describing it as an industrial accident.
Madison County Chief Deputy Coroner Roger Smith confirmed the deaths of two people.
A state bomb squad was at the scene, assisted by a small team from Scott Air Force Base in nearby Belleville, Illinois, a base spokeswoman said.
Totall Metal Recycling employs more than 160 people and accepts for recycling various metals and electronics, according to its website.
The company said in a statement it was an extremely difficult day with the loss of two friends and colleagues and it was cooperating with local, state and federal authorities investigating the incident.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families as we collectively cope with this tragedy," the company said.