An explosion at an industrial park for chemical companies in Germany killed at least one person yesterday, with 16 injured and four still missing.
The explosion at the waste management facility of the Chempark site in the city of Leverkusen, near Cologne, sent dark plumes of smoke into the air. It took firefighters almost four hours to extinguish the fire that took hold after the explosion.
Germany's federal office for civil protection and disaster assistance initially classified the incident as "an extreme threat," but later said that measurements of the air's pollution "do not show any kind of abnormality,'' adding they would continue to measure the air for toxins.
"We are deeply concerned about this tragic accident and the death of our employee,'' the head of Chempark said in a written statement.
Currenta, the company operating the park, said the explosion happened at 9.40am and then developed into a fire.
"Sirens were operated to warn residents and warning alerts were sent,'' Currenta said.
Police in nearby Cologne said a large number of officers, firefighters, helicopters and ambulances from across the region had been deployed to the scene. They asked all residents to stay inside and also shut down several nearby major highways.
Currenta said it was not clear what had caused the explosion and subsequent fire.