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Several injured in Florida gas plant blasts

Police say all workers accounted for after series of explosions at propane factory near city of Orlando.

Last Modified: 30 Jul 2013 10:45
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Helicopter footage aired by local media showed several fires burning at the plant [Reuters]

A series of explosions have rocked a propane tank servicing plant in the US state of Florida, northwest of Orlando, wounding some people and prompting the evacuation of homes around the facility, authorities said.

All workers at the plant have been accounted for, local police said, after as many as 15 were initially missing. At least seven people were admitted in hospital after the explosions.

The blasts began at about 11pm EDT [06:00 GMT on Tuesday] at the Blue Rhino propane gas filling station in the town of Tavares.

Homeowners who live kilometres away told local media they could feel the multiple explosions that shook the area every couple of minutes and sent columns of flame into the night sky.

Aerial views of the facility from footage shot by a local television station about 90 minutes after the first explosions showed what appeared to be a large fire, possibly fed by continuing explosions, surrounded by smaller blazes.

After another 30 minutes, the main fire appeared to be dying down. The wreckage of what appeared to be burned-out trucks could be seen.

Speaking by telephone to local NBC affiliate WESH-TV, former plant supervisor Don Ingram said the company takes in propane tanks used for home gas grills, cleaned them, checked the valves and refilled them. He said that tanks were stacked on plastic pallets four and five high behind the filling station.

He said a late crew typically refilled 4,000 to 5,000 tanks overnight. The nearest residential neighbourhood is located about 400 metres from the facility behind a row of trees, Ingram said.

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