Body recovered from ‘ground shaking' explosion in Waukegan, 2 still missing

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Emergency crews have recovered the body of an employee who went missing Friday night after an explosion at the AB Specialty Silicones plant in north suburban Waukegan.

The person was found dead Saturday morning, and authorities have had to suspend their search for two more people who are still unaccounted for due to structural instability at the facility, Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi said. The search could not be continued in its current state and heavy equipment would need to be brought in to search for the remaining bodies.

First responders were first called to the area Friday night for a building explosion and fire in the area of Sunset Avenue between Green Bay and Delany, the Lake County sheriff’s office said in a statement.

“We are aware of a very loud explosion sound and ground shaking in the Gurnee area. We are working to determine the cause,” the sheriff’s office said.

Four people were sent to area hospitals due to the explosion, Lenzi said. Two of them were sent to Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and the others went to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan. Their conditions were unknown.

Residents were urged to stay away from the scene.

The explosion damaged at least five other buildings in the area and damages are estimated to be at least $1,000,000, the fire department said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all involved in this horrific incident,” Lenzi said in the statement. “We had well over 100 personnel working in dangerous conditions and had no major injuries to report.”

The Illinois EPA and many local Lake County fire departments assisted in the efforts to contain the incident.