May 5, 2019 / 2:49 AM / 4 months ago

Body of worker recovered, two missing after Chicago-area plant blast

(Reuters) - The body of a worker was recovered while two other employees remained missing on Saturday after an explosion at a silicone plant in a Chicago suburb, a fire official said.

Fire officials were investigating what caused the blast at AB Specialty Silicones in Waukegan, Illinois on Friday night, Waukegan Fire Marshal Steven Lenzi told CNN.

“We are still gathering what went wrong,” he said.

Lenzi said the body of one worker was turned over to the coroner, while firefighters and company officials worked to bring in equipment to remove debris to be able to search for the other two victims.

Nine employees were in the building at the time of the explosion that lit up the night sky in the community of some 85,000 people about 40 miles (65 km) north of downtown Chicago.

The blast sent four workers to the hospital while two others did not require treatment, Lenzi said.

“Due to the chemicals that were in the building and the structural instability, it has been deemed unsafe for us to continue any search for the three subjects that are still unaccounted for,” he said during an earlier news conference.

“We are shocked and heartbroken by the tragedy,” Mac Penman, general manager of AB Specialty Silicones, said in a statement.

The 30,000-square foot (2,800 square meters) plant operated around the clock, Lenzi said, and most of the chemicals on site were used to produce silicone.

Images of the plant from local media showed its walls stripped away, leaving only a shell of a building with girders and scraps of roofing material.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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