Fears of Toxic Smoke After an Industrial Explosion in Germany
BERLIN – A large industrial explosion and the subsequent fire at a commercial waste disposal plant rocked the western German city of Leverkusen on Tuesday, killing at least one worker and injuring more than one dozen others.
Federal officials quickly declared the situation an “extreme threat” and warned local residents to avoid the area, stay indoors, close their windows and doors, and turn off household air conditioners powered by the. outside air as they assessed the toxicity of the escaping smoke. off site.
“A full analysis of the cloud we all saw over the city today is not available,” said Lars Friedrich, director of Chempark, the industrial facility where the explosion occurred, when of a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Friedrich noted that such an analysis could take several days.
The city of Leverkusen has confirmed one death and 16 injured workers, four of whom were seriously injured. Four workers are still missing.
“I still have hope that the four who are still missing will be found alive,” Friedrich said.
The cause of the explosion, which occurred around 9.40am local time, is still unknown. But the fire broke out in a tank depot, which contained industrial solvents, sending a plume of thick black smoke to escape from the plant.
The wind quickly blew the smoke over the inhabited parts of the area, which worried the authorities. It took the firefighters about three hours to put out the blaze.
The initial explosion was heard from miles away. As of noon, local authorities had said local air measurements in the area were not toxic and the situation was stable. Police closed local roads, including several highways near the plant.
Although the site of the explosion is just seven and a half miles from the city of Cologne, the city’s firefighters said in a Twitter message that the city’s air remains safe for residents.
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