ConAgra Foods has confirmed that three employees have now been found dead at its North Carolina processing plant following an explosion at the facility on Tuesday (9 June).

The blast at the 500,000-square-foot plant in Garner at 11.30am local time, is understood to have caused parts of the roof to collapse, injuring more than 40 people.

The company said it has set up a fund for contributions from ConAgra Foods, its employees and the local community.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the three victims and their families,” said Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra Foods. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. ConAgra Foods will continue to provide our people with support and counselling assistance, and will continue to support local authorities in identifying the cause of this accident. We appreciate all of the efforts by everyone in the Garner area who has assisted us over the past 24 hours.”

Around 280 workers were at the plant, located at 4851 Jones Sausage Road. The facility produces the company’s Slim Jim products and was acquired in 1998.