Two dead and several injured in industrial explosion in Germany
At least two people have been killed and more than 30 injured in connection with an explosion at a chemical plant outside the city of Leverkusen in western Germany. The fire is out but still smoldering, and it is unclear if the smoke is toxic to the public.
The explosion occurred on July 27, 2021, at 9:40 a.m. local time, sending smoke all over the city.
Tuesday morning's explosion was so powerful that the tremors were recorded by seismographs tens of kilometers away. The rescue services could confirm right away that one person had perished. Four more employees at the facility were reported missing.
Later in the evening, it was confirmed by the company that another employee at Chempark had died. It is currently unclear whether the person is one of those previously stated to be missing. Another 31 people were injured in the accident, four of them seriously. Onel of them allegedly have life threatening injuries.
"This is a tragic day for our city. I hope we can find the four missing employees alive", stated the mayor or Leverkusen, Uwe Richrath.
A hazardous waste facility - Smoke and falling soot could be toxic
The owner, Currenta, states that the affected facility in the Chempark complex is an incineration plant for hazardous waste. The explosion is thought to have have occured in a tank containing solvent. A large fire in the facility followed, which is now under control.
Public health warning to rinse fruits and vegetables
A public health warning with the message "extreme danger" was sent via a crisis app and Germany's health authorities warned citizens of the smoke. A complete analysis of the toxicity of smoke is still lacking, according to Chempark´s manager Lars Friedrich. As it is not possible to exclude, residents in the vicinity are still encouraged to stay indoors and close windows and doors.
Air quality is measured continuously, according to local authorities, but no answer as to whether any rain can bring dangerous substances is expected until the end of the week.
Roads in the area have been blocked off, but on the nearby A1 motorway, traffic has resumed. Outdoor playgrounds have been closed and as a precaution, people are urged to rinse fruit and vegetables from gardens and pay attention to falling flakes of soot.
What caused the massive explosion is currently unclear. The facility is located in an industrial area where several chemical companies are active.
Cover Photo: An aerial photo of Chempark, an industrial park home to many chemical plants. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.