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U.S. News

Missing worker feared dead after Texas chemical plant blasts

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A worker was missing and feared dead after explosions destroyed a chemical plant in Cresson, Texas, and rescue personnel were searching for the man, officials said on Friday.

Workers were mixing chemicals used in oil and gas drilling when the first of two explosions occurred at a Tri-Chem Industries plant 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Fort Worth on Thursday, a local official said. Two other employees were sent to hospital with injuries.

The missing 27-year-old man was identified as Dylan Mitchell, according to WFAA-TV.

“We assume he’s dead,” said Cresson Mayor Bob Cornett, who also is assistant chief of the city’s volunteer fire department.

A person answering the phone at Tri-Chem’s Coppell, Texas, headquarters said there was no one available on Friday to speak to the media.

The blast was the latest accident at chemical plants in the state. Hurricane Harvey last August flooded an Arkema SA chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, causing volatile organic peroxides to catch fire.

More than a dozen emergency workers were treated for respiratory problems from smoke inhalation in that incident. Five years ago, a blast at West Fertilizer Co, in West, Texas killed 15 people, including plant workers and first responders.

Investigators from several agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are beginning an investigation of the cause of the Tri-Chem explosions. Firefighters are containing acids spilled in the explosions and ensuing fire. A berm has been built up surrounding the site of the plant, Cornett said.

“We look like a bunch of fire ants all over that place,” mayor Cornett said.

One worker was severely burned in the explosion and flown to a Dallas hospital. Another man received minor burns and was taken to a hospital in Granbury, Texas, Cornett said.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Gary McWilliams and Grant McCool

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