New Jersey Metal Casting Plant Explosion Kills 1, Injures 9

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An explosion at a metal casting plant killed one and injured nine others Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The accident occurred at Tec-Cast, an aluminum castings company in a pocket of industrial plants and warehouses about a mile north of Giants Stadium. Workers were performing maintenance on an air pressure vat used to cast molten metals into machine parts, police said.

Workers were fixing a door on the approximately 4-foot wide vat shortly after 8 a.m. when it exploded because of air pressure that had built up in the back, said Capt. Franklin Smith of the Carlstadt Police Department.

"I heard the explosion," said Juan Muniz, who was working in an adjacent building about 20 yards away. "My whole building was shaking. It was scary."

Mario Gomez, a 61-year-old maintenance supervisor from Jersey City, was killed when the explosion blew the door off the vat and sprayed pieces of metal that struck him and the other workers, police said. Gomez was pronounced dead at the scene.

The injured workers were taken to Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center and Hackensack University Medical Center. Three of the injuries were critical, including one man who suffered a serious head injury, police said.

About 45 employees were in the building at the time of the explosion, Smith said.

A woman who answered the phone at the plant said she was in another building and did not know what was happening. Workers and Tec-Cast officials left the building without commenting.

Also on Tuesday, a fire was reported at a chemical plant in west Louisville, forcing employees to evacuate.

No injuries were reported at the BASF Corp. plant, which makes pigments for printing, ink, paint and plastics, and the fire was contained to a piece of equipment, said John Schmidt, a company spokesman.