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Explosion at Omaha animal feed processing plant kills two, injures 10

Authorities said they had not determined the cause of the explosion Monday at the International Nutrition animal feed processing plant in Omaha.
Authorities said they had not determined the cause of the explosion Monday at the International Nutrition animal feed processing plant in Omaha.Nati Harnik/Associated Press

OMAHA — Two people were killed and 10 seriously injured Monday in an explosion and partial building collapse at an Omaha animal feed processing plant, authorities said.

Interim Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger said some workers were temporarily trapped in the wreckage of the International Nutrition plant. After the fire that followed the 10 a.m. explosion was extinguished, firefighters gingerly searched the structure, fearing that more debris could rain down.

Kanger said all the other people in the building have been accounted for. At the time of the blast, 38 employees were at work. One firefighter was among those injured, Kanger said.

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The cause of the fire has not been determined. Kanger said no hazardous chemicals were used at the plant. Omaha-based International Nutrition declined to comment.

Workers’ family members who gathered outside the plant said they had received cellphone calls from loved ones inside who told them one or two people were trapped but later made it out. Kanger said he requested aid from urban search and rescue specialists based in Lincoln.

Plant worker Nate Lewis said he felt fortunate to have made it out. Lewis, 21, said he was on the first floor when he heard the blast. The building went dark, so he used light from his cellphone to make his way across the production floor to safety outside.

‘‘I was a production line worker, although I don’t know if I want to be that anymore,’’ said Lewis, who has worked at International Nutrition for about four months.

There appears to be structural damage to the top of the building, which is in an industrial area visible from Interstate 80. There are no residences nearby and no other buildings were evacuated after the explosion.

Diane Stout said she had heard from her husband, a manager on the plant maintenance crew, that he was OK, but she and her two daughters were still worried because he has heart problems.

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Associated Press