GRANITE CITY, Ill. (KMOV) – Nine people were injured in an explosion at the AmstedRail plant in Granite City Thursday morning.
According to officials, at least two people were standing on a platform at the plant in the 1000 block of Niedringhaus Ave. when it exploded around 8:10 a.m. According to officials, the victims were in the cleaning and finishing department.
According to a spokesperson at Gateway Regional Medical Hospital, seven people were transported to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Three of those victims have since been released.
Two others were flown by helicopter from Gateway to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis in critical condition. The remained in critical condition Thursday night.
Roughly 800 people work at the plant where the company produces railcar undercarriages and related components, said Mike Right, the United Steelworkers union’s health, safety and environment chief.
Federal workplace safety officials are investigating the cause of the blast. Calls and emails to the business went unanswered Thursday.
Robert Lott, a worker at the plant and president of the United Steelworkers Local 1063, told the Belleville News-Democrat that at least two of those injured may have suffered broken legs and internal injuries. He said he believed the blast was caused by a gas leak.
“I could see flames, initially, and then the visibility went down to zero from the dust that fell from the rafters,” said Lott, who was about 100 yards from where the blast happened.
Mike Right said the union was sending an investigator to the Granite City plant “to make sure we learn the lessons and really understand what happened.”
“At this point everything is pretty sketchy, and we really don’t like to comment on causes until we have them tied down,” he said.
Associated Press contributed to this report.