The chemical explosion near Tarragona as seen from a nearby town.
15 Jan 2020

Three dead in explosion at a chemical factory in Spain


There people were killed, eight were injured and one person is missing following a heavy explosion in a chemical engineering facility outside Tarragona in northeastern Spain.

The explosion happened on Tuesday. Two of the injured have severe burns.

The explosion occurred in a tank with ethylene oxide, but the cause of the explosion was not yet known in the late evening on Tuesday.


The explosion near Tarragona as seen from the streets in a nearby town.

The explosion near Tarragona as seen from the streets in a nearby town.


Flames from the explosion could be seen from miles away. According to authorities no toxic gas has spread in the area.

According to the BBC, a large metal plate launched by the explosion in Spain's autonomous Catalonia region killed a man 3km (two miles) away.

The man was in his apartment when the one tonne object struck, causing part of the building to collapse, officials have confirmed.

A factory employee was also killed in Tuesday's blast. Another worker died from injuries on Wednesday.

The explosion occurred at about 18:40 local time (17:40 GMT) in La Canonja.

Authorities said it was probably caused by a chemical accident, but that no toxic substances were released.

Members of the public were initially urged to stay indoors when the explosion started a huge fire.

Residents where the man was killed described seeing "a ball of fire" stream across the sky, and firefighters later confirmed that this was the metal plate from the factory site, which they said weighed about a tonne.

Water was sprayed over tanks containing chemicals to keep them cool.

The factory produces the chemicals ethylene oxide - which can be used to make antifreeze, pesticides and to sterilise hospital equipment - and propylene oxide, which is used to make plastics. These chemicals are extremely flammable.

Rescue teams with search dogs found the body of the second victim, a senior staff member at the factory, on Wednesday morning. 

Eight people were injured in the explosion, and one of them died on Wednesday.


Water was applied on the chemical tans to keep them cool.

Water was applied on the chemical tanks to keep them cool.