Two dead in collapse at Omaha feed plant
January 22nd, 2014
Omaha, NE — A recovery crew from Lincoln will continue efforts to recover the body of the second victim of Monday’s building collapse at the International Nutrition feed plant.
Omaha Fire Chief Bernard Kanger told reporters Monday night the crews will work cautiously through the rubble to find the body.
“We’ve got tens of thousands of pounds of reinforced concrete, concrete, and steel,” Kanger said. “Just because of the structural elements that have failed and have collapsed onto the area where this person was working, in order to make it safe for ourselves in order to retrieve the victim it’s going to be a lengthy operation.”
Thirty-eight people were believed to be inside when the building gave way. Ten people were taken to the hospital for injuries. Two others died. According to the Omaha World Herald, police have identified one victim as 53-year-old Keith Everett of Omaha. The other’s identity has not been determined.
The toll could have been higher, Kanger said, but crews worked quickly after the first calls came in 10 o’clock Monday morning.
“Those first arriving companies were able to rescue five people, and some of these people were at the second and third floor,” Kanger said. “One report is two individuals were standing on an I-beam after a wall had blown out and we were able to get those folks out of the structure.”
A grain elevator on top of the building crumpled through the roof. The second and third floors fell to the ground. Officials say there were no explosive chemicals in the building, but some workers reported they saw a fireball before the collapse. Kanger would not confirm whether an explosion occurred.
“It’s very premature right now for us to make any comments like that,” Kanger said. “There’s been reports of fire and explosion. What we do know was that there was a significant event that occurred that resulted in a catastrophic failure of parts of that building.”
Grain dust has been the cause of explosions at feed mills in the past. But it will be up to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to determine whether it was a factor in this case. Kanger said the investigation will begin right away but it may be weeks before they know just what happened.
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