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Blast at N.C. chemical plant injures at least 16

An explosion Tuesday at a chemical plant in North Carolina injured at least 16 people, officials said.
Aerial view of Synthron Inc. after an explosion at the chemical plant on Tuesday.
Aerial view of Synthron Inc. after an explosion at the chemical plant on Tuesday.NBC TV

An explosion at a chemical plant Tuesday injured at least 16 workers and set off an intense blaze spewing thick, black smoke that forced nearby residents indoors while crews tried to determine what chemicals might be in the air.

Two victims were airlifted to different hospitals after the 11:30 a.m. explosion at the Synthron Inc. plant, a hospital spokesman said. One was in serious condition and the other’s condition was not released.

Fourteen people, none with life-threatening injuries, were being treated at another facility, officials said.

Firefighters were on the scene and police urged residents to stay inside. Authorities called residents near the plant to tell them to close their windows and turn off their ventilation and heating systems while hazardous materials crews figure out what chemicals were involved in the blast, said Lisa Propst, a communications manager for Burke County emergency services.

Officials don’t know what caused the explosion, Propst said.

An explosion at a chemical plant left six people injured Tuesday and nearby residents were urged to stay indoors until officials determined the type of chemicals involved in the blast.

At least two of the injured were taken to a hospital after the explosion at the Synthron Inc. plant shortly after 11:30 a.m., officials said.

Firefighters were on the scene and police urged residents to stay inside. Authorities called residents near the plant to tell them to close their windows and turn off their ventilation and heating systems while hazardous materials crews figure out what chemicals were possibly in the air, said Lisa Propst, a communications manager for Burke County emergency services.

Officials didn't know what caused the explosion, Propst said.

Synthron is a subsidiary of Paris-based Protex International, a company that manufactures specialty chemicals in the United States, Europe, Asia and North Africa.

Morganton is about 70 miles northwest of Charlotte.