In a scene eerily reminiscent of last year’s garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, the second and third floors of a Nebraska animal feed processing plant collapsed onto the first yesterday, killing two workers and seriously injuring ten more.
Six hours later, an explosion at the Mid-American Steel and Wire plant in Madill, Oklahoma, killed two employees and sent a third to the hospital with injuries.
Both incidents are under investigation.
The fatalities at the International Nutrition facility in Omaha could have been higher; firefighters were able to rescue five men, including one that had to be cut out of the debris.
The collapse there followed an explosion whose cause is not yet known; authorities say there were no hazardous materials used or stored at the plant.
The cause of the Oklahoma explosion is also unknown. It reportedly occurred in a furnace at the plant.
In Nebraska, emergency responders had to stabilize the building before they complete the search for bodies. Gusty winds and dangerously cold temperatures forced an overnight halt to the search-and-recovery effort, which was resumed this morning.
Omaha Police Lt. Darci Tierney said all 38 of the workers who were in the building at the time had been accounted for.
OSHA personnel are on site to perform an investigation into the accident that could take weeks.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today offered his deepest condolences to the families and communities affected by the tragedies.
“It is heartbreaking when workers lose their lives while providing for their families,” Perez said. “There are many questions yet to be answered about what caused this disaster, but I am confident that the answers provided by federal, state and local officials can offer lessons that will help avoid tragedies like this one in the future.”