Explosion at Dominican plastics company kills 5, injures 66

  • A black plume of smoke rises after an explosion at the Polyplas plant in the Villas Agricolas neighborhood in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. The mayor told reporters the fire began when a boiler exploded early Wednesday afternoon at the plastics company. Authorities say at least two people have died. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Authorities in the Dominican Republic said Thursday that the death toll from an explosion at a plastics company rose to five and they continued searching for at least one missing worker.

Meanwhile, the number of injured rose to 66, with five people in critical condition following Wednesday’s blast in the capital of Santo Domingo, according to a statement from the National Health Service. Among the injured are 13 children who were attending school nearby.

Edwin Olivares, sub-director of the Emergency Operations Center, told The Associated Press that at least one person is still missing. He also said that officials have not been able to identify three of the five victims.

Olivares said many workers survived the large explosion at the Polyplas company because they followed security protocols.

Business owner Manuel Diez Cabral tweeted that 98 percent of staff members were evacuated following what he said was an “uncontrollable” gas leak. He said the company has always followed strict security protocols in its more than 50 years of existence.

During a brief press conference on Thursday, Diez said company officials were cooperating with authorities.

“The recovery work is just beginning,” he said. “We have a difficult road ahead of us.”

Diez said he could not comment further until authorities finalize their investigation. He declined to answer questions including how many employees worked at Polyplas and what would happen to those who survived the blast.

“Our organization is in mourning,” he said. “Once again, we express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims.”

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