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Manufacturing plant collapses; two dead, 10 seriously injured

A long drive due north of Houston takes you into America's heartland, where hearts were broken yesterday by a tragedy at a manufacturing plant.

An apparent blast at an Omaha factory collapsed much of the plant on top of workers. Two of the 38 employees inside were killed in the industrial accident. Ten more were hospitalized with serious injuries, the Houston Chronicle reports.

A firefighter was also injured and hospitalized after the morning disaster.

One worker outside when the blast occurred said he heard a loud noise and then saw the rear factory wall collapse. He said he took off running.

The Chronicle article says "key structural supports" gave way after what appeared to be an explosion, causing the second and third floors to cave in on top of the first.

Omaha's fire chief said he isn't certain an explosion took place, though many on the scene said they heard a blast. He said the plant doesn't store hazardous materials.

The company makes nutritional additives for livestock and poultry feed.

Unstable debris from the building collapse hampered rescue and recovery operations, as did the cold and strong winds, the chief said.

He said rescuers had to contend with "tens of thousands of pounds of concrete, reinforced concrete and steel."

He said their efforts were to resume this morning.

The emotional impact on victims' families and survivors is incalculable. Two lives were ended and others forever altered by one horrific moment.

Unfortunately, they will be compelled to sort through not only their emotions, but the financial implications of the accident as well; a task that can require the thoughtful assistance of an attorney experienced in these difficult matters.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Cause of deadly Omaha plant explosion unknown," Josh Funk, Jan. 21, 2013

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