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Explosion at Indiana naval base sends 5 to hospital

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Friday, March 29, 2013 - 3:07 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Part of a southern Indiana naval installation was shut down Friday while the military investigated a pyrotechnic facility explosion that injured five employees the previous evening.

The explosion happened about 5:40 p.m. Thursday during routine cleanup operations at the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center facility, about 85 miles southwest of Indianapolis, said Crane Army Ammunition Activity spokesman Tom Peske. The five injured employees were examined and released from the hospital Thursday evening.

The blast happened during a cleanup at the facility that produces illumination mortars the military uses to give light to soldiers, Peske said. Employees follow certain procedures to clean up any loose chemical dust at the beginning or end of a production run.

Peske said he doesn't know what chemicals are used, but that they are part of the production of the illuminating candles for the mortars.

The facility has been shut down as Crane looks into the cause of the explosion.

"Safety of all our employees remains our primary concern, so we will do everything possible through the investigation to ensure that a future accident like this won't happen," Peske said.