MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Officials say the 29-year-old researcher seriously injured in an explosion at a University of Hawaii lab Wednesday was conducting a routine experiment and handling relatively stable compounds when something went very wrong.
"Something happened out of the ordinary and we don't know what that is yet," Brian Taylor, dean of UH-Manoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
Post-doctoral fellow Thea Ekins-Coward lost an arm and suffered other injuries in the explosion, which happened about 6 p.m. Wednesday in a basement lab at the Pacific Ocean Sciences and Technology Building.
On Thursday, engineers determined the building where the explosion occurred remains structurally sound, and employees and students will be allowed to return Friday.
The university is reviewing its protocols and safety procedures in the wake of the explosion, and reaching out to experts nationally for assistance on the investigation.
Ekins-Coward was conducting a routine experiment -- something that had been done every day since 2008 -- when the explosion happened in the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute lab, UH officials said. They said she was working with hydrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide...The morning news reports were pretty bad, but I didn't understand why the Chancellor of the school decided to hold a press conference (with the EH&S director telling us all about Dr. Ekins-Coward's safety training from the university) until I saw the above news report that she has been quite seriously injured.
Twitter report from Hawaii prof. Hope Jahren on the story.