August 15, 2017 / 10:25 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Explosion kills two at Gerdau steel plant in Brazil

(Adds number of injured, additional Gerdau and union comments)

SAO PAULO, Aug 15 (Reuters) - An explosion at a Brazilian steel plant operated by Gerdau SA killed two people and injured 10 others on Tuesday, the company and local metalworkers union said.

The blast occurred at a coke oven at Gerdau’s plant in the center-south state of Minas Gerais around 10 a.m. local time, according to the Metalworking Union of Ouro Branco (Sindob).

It was the second major accident in less than a year at the steel plant that employs roughly 2,000 people, according to the union. A blast furnace explosion killed four in November.

The plant’s operations were not affected, but Gerdau’s preferred shares dropped 2.1 percent to 10.97 reais by the close of trading.

Sindob said it is preparing a protest at the plant.

“We attribute this (series of accidents) to the pure and simple lack of maintenance of equipment ... It has not had preventative maintenance, we have been aware of this situation in the plant for two years,” said Sindob President Raimundo Nonato Roque de Carvalho.

Gerdau said in a statement the plant’s equipment was in adequate condition and conformed with safety standards under current law. The company was investigating the cause of the accident and assisting the families of the victims, it said. (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr; writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Sandra Maler and Tom Brown)

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