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Rescuers hunt for worker as toll reaches 5

SHARE Rescuers hunt for worker as toll reaches 5

Dangerous wind gusts and shifting grain frustrated rescuers scouring pitch-black tunnels for one other missing grain elevator worker as the death toll from an explosion rose to five.

Searchers shoveled through the night and dug through cascading grain again Thursday, hoping to find the last missing worker alive. They discovered two bodies Wednesday and the remains of another were identified.Storms and high winds twice suspended the intense rescue effort at the badly damaged DeBruce Grain elevator, the site of Monday's grain-dust explosion that was felt 10 miles away. Two bodies were recovered soon after the blast and 11 other workers were injured.

The search was stopped briefly about 3 a.m. Thursday as workers struggled with a spill of milo - a hard, round grain that is even harder to clean up than the shifting wheat. They drilled through the tunnel's roof to get around the spill.

Workers also briefly suspended their efforts Wednesday evening because strong gusts were blowing debris off the elevator's roof.

Searchers earlier had found the two bodies in the 7-by-7 foot tunnel and determined that remains found Tuesday were those of another man, one of the four workers who had been missing since the blast south of Wichita.

The Sedgwick County coroner's office said it appeared the workers were killed instantly.

About 40 workers at a time have been going into the tunnel section where the men were believed to have been working.

Weather wasn't the only obstacle for rescuers. Like quicksand, the rivers of grain trapped two searchers - one up to his armpits, temporarily halting the operation. Neither rescue worker was injured.

"Maybe we were going a little too fast," Fire Chief Ken Cox said.