Explosion at chemical park in western Leverkusen city leaves two dead, five missing and over two dozen people wounded, officials say.
An explosion at an industrial park for chemical companies has shaken the German city of Leverkusen, sending a large black cloud rising into the air.
Two people were killed, 31 were injured and five others remained missing, officials said on Tuesday, urging residents to stay indoors.
Germany’s Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance classified the explosion as "an extreme threat" and asked residents to stay inside, turn off ventilation systems and keep windows and doors closed, German news agency DPA reported.
The city of Leverkusen said in a statement that the explosion at the Chempark site, about 20 km north of Cologne on the Rhine river, occurred in storage tanks for solvents.
Huge blast at Chempark Leverkusen. Something exploded at Bayer pic.twitter.com/1bTrMzncnZ— The Entertainer (De Goede Volger) (@haverkamp_wiebe) July 27, 2021
Region shut down
Currenta, the company operating the chemical park, said the explosion happened at 9:40 am local (0740 GMT) at the storage tanks of their waste management centre 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 highways.
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"Several employees were injured in the incident, at least two of them seriously," @CHEMPARK operator Currenta said in a statement. "Five employees are currently missing."— Dana Regev (@Dana_Regev) July 27, 2021
Home to chemical companies
Daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger reported that the smoke cloud was moving in a northwestern direction toward the towns of Burscheid and Leichlingen.
Leverkusen is home to Bayer, one of Germany’s biggest chemical companies.
It has about 163,000 residents and borders Cologne, which is Germany's fourth biggest city and has around 1 million inhabitants.
Many residents work at Bayer, which is one of the biggest employers in the region.
The chemical park is located very close to the banks of the Rhine river.
Currenta has three facilities in the region. More than 70 different companies are based at the locations in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen.
#Leverkusen: Emergency services in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia are responding to a large blast at the Chempark chemical production site in Leverkusen. Residents in the Bürrig area are urged to keep their doors and windows shut.pic.twitter.com/zj5jXq35XB— I.E.N. (@BreakingIEN) July 27, 2021