Several people hurt in blast at Brazil steelmaker Usiminas' plant

by Reuters
Friday, 10 August 2018 18:39 GMT

(Adds details on wounded starting in paragraph three)

SAO PAULO, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Several people were injured on Friday in an explosion at a plant in the Ipatinga municipality in the state of Minas Gerais that is owned by Brazilian steelmaker Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA, according to the company and firefighters.

The blast was centered on piece of equipment that stores gases released during the steel production process, according to the company, also known as Usiminas.

A spokesman for the local firefighters' battalion said several people were injured but there were no known fatalities. Local media reported that 25 people were injured. The company said it halted the plant's blast furnaces temporarily.

Ipatinga is a city of about 250,000 in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil, part of the so-called steel valley.

The plant is devoted to producing crude steel, according to analysts at Itau BBA. The Ipatinga plant produced 813,000 tons of steel between April and June of this year, the company said in its latest earnings report.

Shares in Usiminas were down more than 9 percent after reports of the explosion.

"Our preliminary reading is that the impact on the stock is exaggerated," the Itau BBA analysts wrote, noting that the plant could be covered by insurance.

Usiminas is one of the largest steel producers in Brazil. (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr, Marcelo Teixeira and Marcelo Rochabrun; Additional reporting by Paula Laier; Editing by Christian Plumb and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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