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2 killed as explosion rocks Veterans Affairs hospital campus in Connecticut

Two people were killed when a steam pipe exploded at a Veterans Affairs hospital campus in Connecticut on Friday, officials said.

The blast happened at about 8:20 a.m. in a maintenance building that’s on VA grounds, but separate from the medical clinic, according to a hospital spokesman.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said that early “indications are that this appears to have been caused by a steam pipe.”

“We received a report this morning that an explosion occurred at the West Haven campus of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System that resulted in two deaths in a non-patient care area,” according to a statement by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

“Neither of the victims were VA patients and patient care was not affected. Emergency personnel are on the scene. Our prayers are with the families of the victims of this explosion.”

Medical care at that VA, which is about 75 miles north of Midtown Manhattan and 45 miles south of the Connecticut state capitol in Hartford, was expected to continue.

“The hospital is continuing to function no patient at the hospital should be affected,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, told reporters in Washington. “Care at the hospital apparently is ongoing at the same level as always.”

Blumenthal and his Connecticut colleague, U.S. Sen Chris Murphy, both called for a major overhaul, if not a total replacement, of that West Haven campus.

“The VA dates from the 1950s, it is an old, creaky, outdated facility,” Blumenthal said. “It has a new shell on the outside but it has structural weaknesses.”

Murphy singled out out the campus’ heating and air conditioning systems that he called “far too old.”

“And while they’ve made a lot of upgrades, it’s part of the reason why the entire campus does need to be rebuilt,” Murphy said.

Local fire marshals and detectives with the state police’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit responded to the hospital at 950 Campbell Ave. in West Haven, authorities said.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their life in the explosion at the VA,” state Sen. James Maroney, a Democrat who represents West Haven, said in a statement.

“I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the first responders who are on hand dealing with the situation as we wait to find out what caused the explosion.”

This is a developing story, please refresh here for updates.

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