A major explosion rocked an industrial park for chemicals in the western German city of Leverkusen on Tuesday. It sent a large black cloud into the air and sparked a fire. The blast occurred at a tank farm. The blast registered at a seismological station 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. It caused a fire at a fuel depot at Chempark, an industrial park for chemicals companies including Bayer and Lanxess. One person has died. At least two of the 16 hurt workers were seriously injured. The fire began in a tank containing solvents. Firefighters and pollution detection vehicles have been dispatched to the scene. A search for five missing workers was ongoing. Police asked nearby residents to remain indoors and keep doors and windows closed not using the air conditioning systems. Emergency services took three hours to extinguish the fire. It is unclear what caused the blast. Emergency alerts on the German civil protection agency’s mobile phone app warned citizens of “extreme danger.”
Several nearby motorways were closed. “We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the death of an employee,” Chempark site operator Currenta said in a statement. “This is a tragic moment for the city of Leverkusen,” said the city’s mayor, Uwe Richrath. Dortmund, approximately 75 kilometers to the northeast of Leverkusen, advised residents there to do likewise. Later on Tuesday, the fire department in the nearby city of Cologne tweeted that measurements of the air’s pollution “do not show any kind of abnormality.”Leverkusen is less than 50 km (30 miles) from a region hit last week by catastrophic floods that killed at least 180 people.