General Motors Co., the largest U.S. automaker, said one person died and eight people were taken to the hospital after a “small” chemical explosion at a factory near Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Emergency officials received a call at about 1:50 p.m. local time today about a blast at GM’s metal stamping facility in Marion, said Cliff Sessoms, the city’s deputy police chief, who confirmed the fatality and said eight people were injured, in a telephone interview.
GM said in a statement that a “contract team member” was killed when a “small chemical explosion” occurred. Four people were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, Bill Grotz, a GM spokesman, said in the e-mail. Four others were taken to the hospital and ultimately required no treatment, he said.
“When the explosion occurred, employees were evacuated and fire department and other emergency personnel responded quickly,” Grotz said. “Our condolences and deepest sympathies go to our team member’s family and colleagues.”
The Marion Metal Center provides blanks, stampings and sheet metal assembly for cars, vans, trucks and SUVs to GM assembly plants throughout North America and employs more than 1,600 people, according to the company’s website.
GM, based in Detroit, said situation is under control and that it expected third shift employees to report to work at their normal time. The company will have counselors on site, the automaker said.
“The safety of our employees is very important to us and an investigation of the incident is under way,” Grotz said.
The incident adds to woes for GM, which is under scrutiny for taking more than a decade to recall 2.59 million flawed Chevy Cobalts and other small cars linked to at least 13 deaths. The company earlier reported a 1 percent increase in U.S. auto sales for the month of June after analysts had predicted a drop of 6.3 percent.