Deaths in US power plant blast
At least five dead and a dozen injured after explosion rips through plant in Connecticut.
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2010 02:45 GMT

The massive explosion at the plant was felt
up to 50 km away [AFP]

At least five people have been killed and a dozen others injured in a huge explosion at a gas-fired power plant in the US state of Connecticut.

Fire officials said a leak of natural gas was thought to have caused the blast during testing at the Kleen Energy Systems plant, under construction outside the town of Middletown.

The blast occurred around 11:30am (16:30 GMT) on Sunday and was felt up to 50km away.

"I felt the house shake, I thought a tree fell on the house," said Middletown resident Steve Clark.

Kevin White, a Middletown police officer, told Reuters news agency that he did not know how many people were on site at the time of the accident but there were "mass casualties."

Witnesses said the concussion of the blast felt "like an earthquake" and that black smoke bellowed out of the construction site.

Injured airlifted

Ambulances rushed to the site and helicopters were used to airlift some of the injured to hospitals.

Officials were scrambling to compile a list of workers on the site at the time of the blast in an effort to assess whether anyone else was still missing.

Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano told the Associated Press about 50 to 60 people were in the area at the time of the explosion, and multiple contractors were working on the project, making it difficult to quickly account for everyone.

Meanwhile rescue workers helped by search dogs scoured the rubble left by the explosion.

The department of public health was providing tents for medical triage and shelter, with temperatures in the area near freezing point.

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