Fifth body found at exploded grain elevator
Web posted at: 9:10 p.m. EDT (0110 GMT)
Search continues for one person
HAYSVILLE, Kansas (CNN) -- The body of a fifth victim has been found in the tunnel of a grain elevator that exploded two days ago, officials said Wednesday.
The search continues for one person still missing. That person still may be alive, said Ken Cox, Sedgewick County division fire chief.
Two men were found dead soon after the explosion on Monday, and a search began for four men in the 800-foot tunnel.
Proceeding cautiously through the wreckage and shifting wheat in the tunnel, rescuers found the fifth body Wednesday afternoon near the location where two other bodies were found Wednesday morning.
The identities of the bodies recovered have not been released. Those who were missing were temporary workers who had been hired to clean the grain elevator.
The search for the remaining missing person is progressing, Cox said. The rescue effort has involved 80 workers on round-the-clock shifts since Monday.
"They are still in the process of searching both the north and the south end of the tunnel and they'll continue that until hopefully we can find that last person alive," Cox said.
"We're still in rescue mode," said Phil Kirk, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We're not giving up because there's still hope we can find someone who is still alive."
The search effort suffered a minor setback Wednesday afternoon when two rescue workers became trapped for a short time. The rescuers were trapped when falling grain covered them. They were removed quickly and were in good condition, Cox said.
Work was suspended for part of the afternoon so engineers could take steps to ensure the rescuers' safety as they dig through tons of grain.
The rescue crew, working in 90-degree temperatures, has searched about 80 percent of the tunnel beneath the grain elevator, he said.
The search has been slowed by the presence of heavy steel I-beams and concrete debris. But that increased hope that someone may have been able to find shelter from the tons of grain.
"Any time we have an open pocket underneath a piece of fallen debris, there's the chance that a person could be under that fallen debris," Cox said.
A crane was brought in to remove the beams and concrete.
Two 800-foot-long tunnels run beneath the 120-foot-tall grain elevator towers. When grain is emptied from the elevators, it is allowed to fall on conveyor belts in the bottom of the tunnels.
Monday's grain dust explosion, apparently caused by a spark that ignited highly explosive grain dust, happened at the huge DeBruce Grain complex south of Wichita. It was so massive it shook homes as far as 10 miles away and knocked holes the size of houses in the facility's central control structure.
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