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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

One dead after blast in Fredrikstad

UPDATED: An explosion ripped through the Mills food products plant in Fredrikstad on Monday, leaving at least one person dead and several injured. Emergency crews were still searching through the rubble and the cause of the blast wasn’t expected to be determined for several days.

Mills officials said they had accounted for their employees, but search and rescue crews using specially trained dogs continued their work in the event others were trapped in the ruins. No other bodies were found as of Wednesday.

Extensive damage
The blast occurred late Monday afternoon and caused extensive damage to the plant, also to nearby buildings and homes on the eastern side of town. The large, sprawling plant of the food producer perhaps best known for its mayonnaise is located over the bridge from downtown Fredrikstad, along the street that turns into Oldtidsveien, an historic two-lane road running southeast that’s dotted by ancient sites featuring rock carvings and stone circles that resemble miniature Stonehenges.

The cause of the blast was unclear and Fredrikstad police were getting assistance from a bomb squad from Oslo. Even though the danger of further explosions was believed to be over, police set up a security zone around the plant as a precaution.

“We view the situation as under control, but we’re evaluating it constantly,” Sven Roger Gundersen of the Østfold Police District told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

Blast linked to maintenance work
A Mills executive told NRK that a gas truck had been in the area to empty a gas tank and carry out some maintenance. The person confirmed to have been killed was involved in the maintenance work.

“When the gas tank was empty, something happened that we think set off the explosion,” factory chief Hilde Fløkstad told NRK. Police said a technical crew would determine the cause of the blast.

The dead person was identified as Dan Vigbjørn Larsen, age 62 and from Lunner in Hadeland. He worked for the company carrying out the maintenance work.

Three persons were sent to the local hospital in Fredrikstad. One had also been working on the maintenance project, while the two others were passersby. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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