OMAHA Jan 20 An explosion and fire on Monday at a feed plant in Omaha, Nebraska, injured at least nine people, while others were missing and unaccounted for, authorities said.
Emergency teams responded to a report around mid-morning of an explosion and building collapse at International Nutrition in south Omaha, where 38 employees were working at the time, authorities said.
International Nutrition makes feed, vitamins and nutritional products for animals including swine, cattle, goats, poultry and aquatic species.
Nine people were injured and taken to local hospitals, according to Omaha Interim Fire Chief Bernard Kanger. Their conditions were not immediately available, but The World-Herald newspaper reported that at least two were critically injured.
Kari Cook told the World-Herald she was waiting for news of her boyfriend, John Broderick, a shift supervisor at the plant.
She told the newspaper he sent her a text at 10:09 a.m. reading: "Major accident. I'm hurt and trapped. Love you."
She said she replied: "Honey, answer me," but that he had not responded.
Nate Lewis, a production line worker, told the newspaper that the building caved in from the third floor. He also said it turned pitch black inside the plant and he crawled through the rubble to safety.
Kanger said authorities had not yet been able to search all areas of the facility, which sustained significant damage.
The grain handling industry, which includes feed plants, is considered "high hazard," due partly to the risk of fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration website. (Reporting by Katie Schubert, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and David Gregorio)