A chemical explosion at an Illinois plastics plant April 23 has left four workers dead and eight others injured. Firefighters from about 25 departments worked into the night and through the next day trying to extinguish a blaze at Formosa Plastics Corp. sparked by the explosion. The cause of the blast is under investigation.

Based on preliminary reports, Joseph Machalek, 50, of Decatur; Larry Graves, 47, of Decatur; Glenn Lyman, 49, of Cornland; and Linda Hancock, 56, of Decatur died of smoke inhalation, said Sangamon County Coroner Susan Boone. Eight workers were taken to nearby hospitals, where their conditions ranged from fair to critical. Six other employees either declined care or were treated and released.

The plastics plant will be rebuilt, and employees will continue to be paid for an undetermined amount of time, according to company officials.

The company estimates that about 60 percent of the plant's production area was destroyed. Company spokesman Rob Thibault said Formosa Plastics intends to repair and restart the plant but said plant officials had just begun to investigate the damage.