A ground-rattling explosion today at a chemical plant in Louisiana ignited a blaze that killed at least one person and injured dozens of others, authorities said. Witnesses described a chaotic scene of flames high in the air and workers scrambling over gates to escape the plant. Louisiana's health department said 77 people were treated at hospitals, with 51 being released by the evening. A handful remained in critical or serious condition. Hospitals reported that workers mostly had burns, cardiac and respiratory issues, and bruises.
A body was found by hazardous materials crews going through the aftermath of the blast at the facility, police said. The victim was identified as 29-year-old Zachary C. Green. The plant, owned by the Tulsa-based Williams Companies Inc., is in an industrial area of Geismar, about 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge. The company said the blast happened at 8:37am. The cause was not immediately known, but the FBI said terrorism was not suspected. The plant makes ethylene and propylene—highly flammable gases that are the basic building blocks in the petrochemical industry. (Read more Louisiana stories.)