One dead and four missing after explosion at German industrial park

One dead and four missing after explosion at German industrial park
Emergency vehicles near the Chempark site in Leverkusen, Germany (Oliver Berg/dpa via AP)

An explosion at an industrial park for chemical companies in Germany has killed at least one person, with 16 injured and four still missing.

Fire officials who tested the air said there did not appear to be a danger to nearby residents after authorities initially urged people to shelter inside.

The explosion at the waste management facility of the Chempark site in the city of Leverkusen, near Cologne, sent a large black cloud 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”.

Later on Tuesday, however, the Cologne fire department tweeted that measurements of the air’s pollution “do not show any kind of abnormality”.

They said the smoke had gone down but that they would continue to measure the air for toxins.

The city of Leverkusen said in a statement that the explosion occurred in storage tanks for solvents. It said four people were admitted to hospital with severe injuries.

“We are deeply concerned about this tragic accident and the death of our employee,” the head of Chempark, Lars Friedrich, said in a written statement.

Smoke rises above the Chempark in Leverkusen (Oliver Berg/dpa via AP)

Currenta, the company operating the chemical park, said the explosion happened at 9.40am local time and then developed into a fire.

“Sirens were operated to warn residents and warning alerts were sent,” Currenta said in the statement.

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 warned people from outside of Leverkusen to avoid the region.

They also shut down several nearby major roads.

Daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger reported that the smoke cloud was moving in a north-western direction toward the towns of Burscheid and Leichlingen.

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