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Explosion at Canadian tanker manufacturing facility kills six, injures two

18 January 2022

An explosion at a tanker truck manufacturing facility in Ottawa, Canada killed six people and injured two others on January 13. One of the deceased died from their injuries after being transported to hospital, while efforts to recover the bodies of five others were hampered by the unsafe site and poor weather conditions.

Image: Ottawa Police
Image: Ottawa Police

The incident happened at a facility belonging to Eastway Tank Pump and Meter Ltd. – a manufacturer and repairer of tanker trucks. Ottawa Police said that emergency services were called to the scene at around 13:30 local time where Ottawa Fire Services tackled a significant fire.

Three people were found at the scene and transported to hospital. One of the injured died of their wounds, one was kept at hospital in a serious but stable condition, and the third person was released later on the same day.

After the fire had been extinguished, Ottawa Police said that five people were still unaccounted for. All five had been inside the facility at the time of the blast and it was therefore unlikely that the four men and one woman would be found alive.

In a statement, Eastway Tank’s President Neil Greene said: “It is with great sadness that we learned that one of our colleagues perished as a result of the tragic explosion, with five remaining missing and one in hospital. My heart goes out to their families, loved ones and to all of our employees who are reeling from this deep loss. We remain in close contact with investigators, and we will cooperate with authorities on all ensuing investigations. We want to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Four of the missing people were confirmed as deceased on January 16 when four bodies were located. However, due to poor weather conditions and the unsafe nature of the site, it was not possible for the bodies to be recovered and identified. Ottawa Police said the continued risk of periodic flare-ups, presence of asbestos, chemicals and structural collapse had slowed recovery efforts. Rescue efforts and the clean-up of the site was expected to continue well into the week beginning January 17.

The cause of the initial explosion has yet to be determined. An investigation has been opened with input from the Ontario Fire Marshall, the Office of the Chief Coroner/Ontario Forensic Pathology Service and the Ottawa Police Service. Other agencies including the Ministry of the Labour, Training and Skills Development are also conducting their own parallel investigation with the assistance of the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TTSA) and Transport Canada.

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