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Illinois Oil Well Explosion Kills Two, Injures Four

An oil well exploded in southern Illinois killing two workers and injuring four others

An oil well exploded in southern Illinois on Wednesday, killing two workers and injuring four others, authorities said.

The explosion occurred around 10 a.m. as workers from Mason Well Servicing in Grayville were cementing a finished well west of Crossville, said Anita Sullivan, a secretary for the White County Sheriff's Department. The fire was under control by the afternoon.

The four injured workers were taken by helicopter to hospitals, authorities said. A fifth worker who officials initially said had been injured was not hurt, said White County Coroner Carl McVey.

Messages left for the company were not returned. Autopsies will be conducted Thursday, but "it's going to be a while before the remains will be positively identified," given their condition, McVey said.

All of those killed or injured suffered burns, some of them severe, McVey said. He did not know the conditions of the injured.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent investigators to the scene, spokesman Scott Allen said.

Hundreds of small independent oil companies operate in the region, said Brad Richards, executive vice president of the Mount Vernon-based Illinois Oil and Gas Association.

The Illinois Basin — encompassing parts of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky — produces about 10 million barrels of oil annually, Richards said.

Crossville is about 30 miles northwest of Evansville, Ind.