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US cosmetics plant explosions kill one, injure dozens

21 November 2017

One person is dead and up to 40 reported injured after two explosions and a fire at a cosmetics plant in upstate New York. The plant is owned by Verla International, a contract packaging and filling company for cosmetics and perfumes. Early indications are that the blasts were triggered by chemicals used at the plant, with an investigation ongoing into the precise cause.

The injured included seven firefighters who were caught in the second blast, some 25 minutes after the first on the morning of November 20. According to local sources, most of the injured were suffering from smoke inhalation and heat exposure and have been treated and released. All those injured are expected to survive.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said state emergency response teams have been sent to the factory. State personnel dispatched included homeland security staffers, state police, environmental conservation enforcement officers and health department technicians, the Democratic governor said. The state also will investigate working conditions and regulatory compliance at the plant.

“Following today’s chemical explosion, I am directing a multi-agency investigation to get to the bottom of what happened and review compliance with state labor and environmental laws,” he said in a statement.

Records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate the plant had nine violations earlier this year related to exit maintenance and the use of flammable liquids, among other issues. Of those violations, six were classified as "serious."

The plant is located in New Windsor, a town about 55 miles (88 kms) north of New York City. Verla employs 250 at the 52,000 sq.ft. (4,831 sq.m.) site.

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