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6 killed, 9 hurt in liquid nitrogen leak at Ga. meat-packing plant

By Jonna Lorenz

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- At least six people were killed and nine others hospitalized after a liquid nitrogen leak at a meat-packing plant in Gainesville, Ga., on Thursday.

Five of the victims died at the scene of the hazmat incident at Prime Pak Foods and a sixth died at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, authorities said during a 1 p.m. news conference.

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Hall County Fire Services and Gainesville Fire officials responded to reports of burns at the plant at 10:12 a.m. Nine patients were transferred to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, including three Gainesville firefighters and one Hall County firefighter. They were being evaluated for respiratory complaints.

The cause of the leak wasn't immediately known; there was no explosion, Hall County Fire Services spokesman Zachary Bracket said. About 130 people were taken to a Free Chapel church for evaluation and one was later transported to the hospital.

Sean Couch, spokesman for Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said three of the victims were admitted in critical condition and five others were in fair condition.

Liquid nitrogen is used to chill meat during processing. It is colorless, odorless and can cause burns. If inhaled in excessive amounts, it can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and sudden death.

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