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2 workers dead, 1 person missing in veterans hospital blast

Pat Eaton-Robb
Associated Press

West Haven, Conn. – An apparent steam explosion Friday in a maintenance building at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Connecticut killed a VA employee and a contractor and left a third person missing, officials said.

“We received a report this morning that an explosion occurred at the West Haven campus of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System that resulted in two deaths in a non-patient care area,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.

“Neither of the victims were VA patients and patient care was not affected. Emergency personnel are on the scene,” the statement said. “Our prayers are with the families of the victims of this explosion.”

The VA Medical Center in West Haven, Connecticut.

Max Reiss, a spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont, said a third person was missing.

West Haven firefighters described it as a “steam explosion” at a facilities building a short distance from the hospital, their union said in a Facebook post.

One of the people who died was a VA employee and the other was a contractor, said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat.

“This kind of explosion may have been the result of a mechanical failure or a mistake on the part of someone at the VA. We have no firm facts as yet,” Blumenthal said.

The contractor who died worked for Mulvaney Mechanical, based in Danbury, Connecticut, said company Vice President Charles Brough. He said he did not have information about the work being done, and the company did not release the contractor’s name.

The area of the campus where the blast happened was taped off by late Friday morning, but people were being allowed to enter and exit the main hospital building.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into what happened, spokesperson Jim Lally said.

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Associated Press writers Dave Collins in Hartford and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.