Pekin, IL Corn Products Refining Starch Plant Explosion, Jan 1924
CORN PRODUCTS PLANT BLOWN UP
Starch Works At Pekin Ill., Destroyed By An Explosion Early Today
Thirty Men Believed to Have Been Killed by the Blast; One Hundred Others Injured, Many of Whom Will Die, Being Horribly Burned; Cars Alongside the Plant Blown from the Track; Loss Estimated at Half Million.
By The Associated Press
Pekin, Ill., Jan. 3.-- Between 28 and 35 persons were killed and 100 injured, according to estimates, in an explosion and fire in the starch building in the Pekin plant of the Corn Products Refining company, early today. At 10 a. m. seven bodies, six identified, had been recovered. At that hour, two buildings of the big plant were in ruins; building No. 33, the starch powder house, where the blast occurred, being reduced to a mass of smouldering debris, and building No. 27, the starch house, still blazing, its walls standing but giving off heat so intense that no efforts could be made to search for bodies.
The bodies recovered were the following:
GEORGE HARMS; LEE HARDING, married; WM. RUMLER; LOUIS SCHMIDT; JOHN HOOPER; WM. VOGELSANG.
JIM HOLTON; GEORGE LIEBER; J. PICKEREL (who begged that his broken legs be cut off); and OTTO LOHNES. This brings the list of identified dead to ten and one other unidentified.
Body of a man.
Altho[sic] ordinarily 250 men were employed in the starch houses, according to FRANK VEIDE, manager, only 72 men were in the starch powder house, where the explosion occurred, according to the best information he had. He and Superintendent LAWSON refrained from offering any estimates of the dead and injured until they could obtain more definite information.
Peoria, Jan. 3.-- Between 20 and 30 men trapped in the basement of the starch works at the Pekin Corn Products plant are believed to have been killed by the explosion which wrecked the building at 3:35 this morning. Workers attempting to rescue bodies report seeing many bodies lying in the basement but will be unable to reach them until the flames are controlled. Of the 100 or more injured, attending physicians say 20 or more probably will die before night. They are horribly burned.
The plant employed about 800 men, and it is estimated that 250 were at work in the starch house when the explosion occurred. They were members of the night shift which went on at 11 o'clock. Among the victims also were workers on the next shift, due to go on at 4 o'clock. Twenty-five or more of the 4 o'clock workers were in the building waiting to begin their duties, when the explosion occurred.
The cause of the blast has not yet been determined, but it is believed to have been caused by a dust explosion.
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