An explosion has killed at least one person at a chemical industrial site in Leverkusen, Germany. Four others are still missing, and 31 are injured. The fire that started after the explosion has since been extinguished. However, the cause of the explosion is not yet known.
The explosion could even be heard in Cologne on Tuesday morning, about 15 kilometres away. The explosion took place at the waste processing company Currenta, where a fire subsequently broke out. Three tanks of solvents, each with a volume of about 200 to 300 cubic meters, caught fire. It’s unclear how much of the chemical was burned. Thick black clouds of smoke towered hundreds of meters above the industrial estate, which also houses chemical company and pharmaceutical producer Bayer. The chemical park is one of the largest in Europe; there are more than seventy companies.
The accident took a heavy toll on the chemical park. One employee was killed in the blast, and four others are still missing. A total of 31 people have been injured, police said, five of whom are in serious condition. According to the manager of the chemical park, one of the injured is in a life-threatening condition. He was taken to a clinic with serious burns. The mayor of the town on the Rhine spoke of “a tragic day for Leverkusen”.
Emergency services called on local residents today to stay indoors and keep their windows and doors closed because of the harmful smoke. Several highways were closed. Later the smoke moved north towards Wuppertal. Air measurements by the fire service now show that the region’s population is not at risk from the smoke.
Earlier, the German civil defence spoke of extreme danger. That seems to have gone. But it cannot be ruled out that harmful substances have still settled in the area, the authorities report. People are advised not to eat vegetables from their own garden and to avoid, for example, children’s playgrounds with soot deposits. The situation around the industrial estate itself remains dangerous, emphasizes the manager of the site.