Sunday's Search Proves Difficult at Sugar Plant - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Sunday's Search Proves Difficult at Sugar Plant

This view of the plant, taken from video by CEMA, shows some of the extent of the damage near the silos. This view of the plant, taken from video by CEMA, shows some of the extent of the damage near the silos.

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Three days after the deadly explosion at the Imperial Sugar Refinery in Port Wentworth, crews are still searching for victims.  Crews have narrowed the search area thanks to information provided by some of the victims flown to the Augusta Burn Center.

The problem is, crews can't access those areas.  Several factors on Sunday have made it difficult for crews to look for victims. Fires are still burning inside the silos, crystallizing and hardening the sugar.

Firefighter Roy Harris said, "It looks like molasses, it hardens, we just had to force entry through a door because it hardened around the door and we had to break down the door to get into it because of the melted sugar."

High winds are making the already unstable buildings even more dangerous.

While search and rescue crews dig through what's left of the refinery, Savannah Chatham-County Metropolitan Police homicide detectives have been on standby.  They have to be there when crews find a body. 

Detective Josh Hunt has been working with the families to identify the five bodies found Friday and Saturday.  They are using medical and dental records to help with that process. 

Hunt said this has been an emotional process for eveyone involved.  "This may be difficult for us to deal with," he said.  "But nothing compares to what the poor friends and families of the people inside that plant and the people in Augusta are going through.  Our thoughts and prayers really go out to them."

As of Sunday, the Chatham Emergency Management Agency says 44 people were injured in Thursday's explosion. Twenty people who were critically injured were flown immediately to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia. Sixteen others were treated and released from Savannah area hospitals.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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