LEVERKUSEN, Germany: One person has died and four are missing after an explosion at a chemical park in western Germany, the site operator said on Tuesday, urging residents to stay indoors as a column of black smoke billowed from the area.
Another 16 people were injured in the incident in the city of Leverkusen, Chempark operator Currenta said, two of them seriously. All those affected worked at the site. The cause of the huge blast, which was heard several kilometres away, remains unknown.
Germany’s NINA warning app sent an “extreme danger” alert to residents, telling them to close their doors and windows and keep emergency numbers free as much as possible. The explosion happened at around 09:40 am (0740 GMT) at Chempark’s waste incineration site in Leverkusen’s Buerrig district.
The area is separate from the main industrial park that houses numerous chemical companies including Bayer, Lanxess and Evonik Industries.
At an afternoon press conference in Leverkusen, Chempark head Lars Friedrich said the warning to stay indoors remained in place while experts raced to identify the composition of the smoke cloud. Asked whether the cloud might contain toxic gases, Friedrich declined to speculate but said nothing could be ruled out.
Police in Cologne tweeted that they had closed several motorways in the area because of “major damage” and urged drivers to avoid the area.