WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has activated the Lincoln, Neb., Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force for immediate deployment to a grain elevator explosion in Sedgwick County near Haysville, Kan.
The explosion, which occurred 9:20 a.m. CDT yesterday, June 8, partially collapsed the concrete and steel structure killing two, injuring six and possibly burying four others in tunnels running underneath the grain storage facility. A Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit from Fort Riley, Kan., rescued four other individuals with burns from atop the damaged structure.
The missing workers are believed to be in a tunnel underneath the elevator. Rescue workers are making their way to an 800-foot section of one of four tunnels, where the missing people were believed to be working at the time of the explosion.
The explosion may have been caused by a spark that ignited highly combustible grain dust, according to a spokesman for the Sedgwick County Emergency Management Office. The explosion knocked a hole the size of the small house out of the center of the structure, and blew out concrete on both ends of the elevator.
Gov. Bill Graves issued a "State of Disaster Emergency," for the explosion and Sedgwick County following a tour of the site with State Agriculture Secretary Allie Devine. The governor has also requested a Federal emergency disaster declaration, due to unique equipment requirements to conduct search and rescue operations.
FEMA Region VII is deploying its US&R point of contact to coordinate with State and local officials. FEMA HQ has also activated personnel to provide technical assistance, situation assessment and resource coordination and assistance.