Conflicting reports, ongoing recovery in GA sugar explosion

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (AP) - There are conflicting reports about fatalities as the recovery effort continues after an explosion and fire at a sugar refinery near Savannah, Georgia.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine says firefighters found three bodies in tunnels beneath the Imperial Sugar refinery. He says firefighters also think they've found three other bodies but haven't yet reached them.

But local authorities say they can't confirm any deaths. Savanah-Chatham County police spokesman Sergeant Mike Wilson says authorities have NOT confirmed any deaths yet. He says firefighters are still going through the rubble.

Authorities believe 95 to 100 people were working in the area when the plant exploded last night. More than 50 people have been taken to hospitals, with some airlifted to a burn center in Augusta, Georgia, 130 miles up the Savannah River.

A spokeswoman for the burn unit at Doctors Hospital in Augusta -- Beth Frits -- says the unit has received 18 patients -- including 15 who are in critical condition.

The medical director of the burn unit -- Dr. Fred Mullins -- spoke to reporters at Doctors Hospital. He says many of those in the unit sustained burns over 60% of their bodies. He says many may be in the hospital for months.

Imperial Sugar is headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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