Corpus Christi, TX Grain Elevator Blast, Apr 1981
"Everything was working the way it was supposed to be. Everything seemed to be okay," said Rodman, who added that officials were at a loss to explain the explosion.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Reagan Brown said in Austin that the elevator, bonded under the Texas Department of Agriculture, contained six million bushels of grain.
He said the elevator carried $70 million in insurance and bonds.
"We think there will be no loss to the farmers," who had grain in the elevator, said Brown.
Labor foreman W. M. Jenkins said workers were stacking grain and unloading railroad cars "when there was a rumbling like thunder then boom -- there it was." He said he was knocked down by the force of the blast.
"The top of the silos just went off, they started flying everywhere. They (the blasts) shot holes through the main building and then white smoke came out the top and mushroomed like an atomic bomb explosion," said Bob McKinney, a construction worker on a job near the elevator.
"It looked like a huge sledgehammer had hit it and took of the tops of about 10 silos," said John Van Meter, who saw the blasts from about 400 yards away. "People were running around going nuts and it looked like cement was falling."
Navy helicopter crews hovered over the waterfront and coastal marshes, searching in vain for the three missing men. Rescue workers also trudged through weeded areas near the rows of shattered grain silos in an unsuccessful hunt for the missing.
Nueces County Medical Investigator Bill Burch identified the dead as ALFREDO CANALES, 51;
R. W. PIERCE, 45, and JOSE VALDEZ, 32, all of Corpus Christi.
The Del Rio News-Herald Texas 1981-04-08