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Explosions At Mississippi Fireworks Plant Kill Two

June 12, 1990 GMT

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) _ Explosions felt up to 30 miles away leveled a small fireworks plant today, killing two people, authorities said.

An hour after the first explosion at 9 a.m., witnesses said there were still minor explosions at the Mid-South Fireworks plant, located six miles southeast of this east-central Mississippi town.

″We have not found the bodies yet, but we are sure there are two,″ Don Harris of the Lowndes County medical examiner’s office said at late morning. ″We have just now been able to put water to it.″

He said two people were injured. Suzy Powers, a spokesman for the Golden Triangle Regional Medical Center in Columbus, said one person had been brought in ″with fairly minor injuries.″

The plant usually employees about 20, but that increases to about 35 this time of the year. But at the time of the explosion, only four people were believed to be in the plant, witnesses said.

The old brick school that housed the plant ″is down to the ground,″ Harris said.

″There was one small explosion, then a real big one,″ said Ed Markham of Ekanobel Inc., a chemical plant about four miles from the fireworks factory. ″After the first one, I thought it was a sonic boom from a plane. Then the second one went off and I knew it was something big.″

Markham said he understood a trailer containing more explosives survived the initial blasts and that officials were trying to move it to a safe area away from the plant.

The blasts were felt as far away at Mississippi State University about 30 miles away in Starkville.

″We felt two distinct booms and the windows on the east side of our building, which is located in the center of campus, were rattled,″ said Sammy McDavid, a university spokesman. ″It did no damage here. It was one of those things that you say, ’What was that?″