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Louisiana chemical plant blast kills one, injures 73

14 June 2013

An explosion at the Williams Olefins chemical plant in Geismar, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, killed one person and injured 73 more, according to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. The explosion shook homes more than three miles away and the subsequent fire saw flames up to 200 feet high, according to local sources. 

The fire burned for more than three hours and was then extinguished. The injured were taken to local hospitals, where two were said to be in a critical condition.

A worker at the plant quoted by AP said there was mass hysteria after the explosion, with workers scrambling over gates to get out of the plant.

A total of 300 workers were evacuated, Jindal said. Ten people remained in a safe room at the plant, he said. Authorities ordered people within a 2-mile radius to remain in their homes because of the smoke.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. "Once the investigations are done, once there's a responsible party, they will absolutely be held responsible," Jindal said.

The facility produces ethylene and propylene and is one of a number of chemical plants in an industrial area on the banks of the Mississippi, about 20 miles from Baton Rouge.

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