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By Samuel R. Avro on Feb 7, 2010 with no responses

‘Mass Casualties’ reported after huge explosion at Conn. power plant

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A massive explosion rocked the gas-fired power plant, with confirmed fatalities and many injuries.

Middletown, CT - At least 5 people were confirmed killed after a huge explosion rocked a gas power plant shortly before 11:30am local time. Police and rescue services fear that there are ‘mass casualties’ as a result of the exploding gas pipeline, and the death toll is expected to rise.

“The reports vary from a few, several to possibly as many as 50 dead,” said Brian Albert from the local hospital.

Billowing smoke was seen rising from the 620-megawatt Kleen Energy Systems plant, located along the banks of the Connecticut river.

Witnesses and victims of the explosion said that there are many bodies buried beneath the rubble, with rescue services operating frantically to pull the survivors to safety.

Middletown deputy fire marshal Al Santostefano said that it was “a massive explosion” and noted that emergency responders had “confirmed fatalities,” though he declined to say how many.

The explosion could be felt from up to 15 miles away from the plant, with many area residents originally mistaking it for an earthquake. Middletown is located just 23 miles south of Hartford, the state’s capital.

“They were doing the firing of the engines this morning and so something went wrong and it blew up and flames came shooting up almost as tall as that stack,” a local resident told told WTNH-TV.

Governor Jodi Rell immediately activated the state’s emergency management center upon being informed of the blast, and the more than 100 firefighters on the scene have since extinguished the blaze that erupted from the explosion.

Rescue officials say that there is no further danger to the public and are now operating “in search and rescue mode,” according to Santostefano.