Explosion at Ill. factory sends debris flying a quarter mile, killing truck driver

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gas line explodes at Ill. factory, killing 1 man

BELVIDERE, Ill. — Flying debris from an explosion at a northern Illinois technology plant killed a man nearly a quarter of a mile away.

Illinois Tollway spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis says the man died Monday after being hit by debris. The victim was a customer at a toll road oasis on Interstate 90, which has several restaurants and a gasoline station. McGinnis says Illinois State Police are trying to contact the man’s family.

Police in Belvidere, Ill., say a gas line exploded Monday afternoon at the NKD America plant, which makes synthetic crystals for computers.

Residents of the community of about 20,000 reported hearing a loud boom and feeling the ground shake as if there were a minor earthquake. Belvidere is located about 70 miles northwest of Chicago.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BELVIDERE, Ill. (AP) — A gas line explosion rocked a technology plant in northern Illinois Monday, sending trembles through buildings as far as a mile away. One man was injured by flying shrapnel a quarter mile away, authorities said.

Belvidere police said the gas line exploded Monday afternoon at the NDK America, Inc. plant, which makes synthetic crystals for computers.

“It sounded like a traffic accident — a boom,” said Greg Brown, a school district official in the community of about 20,000 residents about 70 miles northwest of Chicago. “We thought someone dropped something on the roof. It was like a little earthquake.”

A man putting gas into his vehicle at a I-90 tollway oasis was apparently hit by shrapnel, but it appears nobody at the plant was injured, Belvidere Mayor Fred Brereton said.

Jim Fealtman, a regional sales manager at NDK America’s office in Webster, Mass., the company’s other U.S. location, confirmed that no one was injured at the Belvidere plant at the time of the blast, but had no other information.

Three sides of the NDK building in Belvidere collapsed in the blast, WIFR-TV in Rockford reported.

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