At least 2 dead in Connecticut power plant explosion

At least two people were killed Sunday in an explosion at a Connecticut power plant, police said.

Two people have been confirmed dead, said Middletown, Connecticut, police Sgt. Chuck Jacobucci, but authorities expect the number to rise since they are still searching for people.

More than 100 emergency service units, including fire, police and emergency management, were responding, he said.

Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, about 15 miles from Hartford, Connecticut, said it was receiving patients from the blast, which occurred about 11:30 a.m. at the Kleen Power Plant.

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The plant was under construction and had not opened, Middletown Officer Kevin White told CNN. It was set to go online later this year, he said, and was in a “testing phase.”

People up to 20 miles away reported hearing or feeling the blast.

“It felt like the house was shaking,” Peter Moore, who lives about 10 miles away in Durham, told CNN. He said he thought at first there had been a traffic accident on his street or there was a problem with his house. “It was really big,” he said.

Moore said his mother, who lives in Woodbridge, about 20 miles away from the plant, also said she heard the explosion, and said it “sounded like someone pounded on the back door a couple of times.”

“It was almost like an earthquake,” nearby resident Lynn Townsend told CNN affiliate WTNH. She said she heard the explosion and went outside to see “a very big, bright orange flame” between the plant’s two smokestacks, and immediately dialed 9-1-1.

“It really shook the house,” she said. “Everybody was scared. The kids started to cry.”

Bernadette Nyland told WTNH she was in her yard when the explosion occurred.

“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,” she told the station.

Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance told WTNH his agency has received “an immense amount of inquiries” from residents who heard or felt the explosion.

WTNH.com coverage of Middletown explosion

The plant’s general manager, Gordon Holk, confirmed the blast caused casualties, but wasn’t sure how many. Fire and police officials in Middletown said there were “mass casualties,” but no other details were immediately available.

The site is a 620-megawatt gas-fired power plant, according to Holk.

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