Explosion at a chemical plant in southeast Slovenia

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An explosion and a fire occurred at a chemical plant in the town of Kocevje, in southeast Slovenia, about 55km (30 miles) southeast of Ljubljana, on Thursday morning. The factory building was badly damaged. Images from the scene showed black smoke billowing from the factory. At least 20 people were injured. Five people from them suffered severe burns. Four others were missing. The area with the persons considered missing was inaccessible due to high temperatures. They are feared dead.The factory produced melamine resins for paper, construction, wood, rubber, and the lacquer industry, impregnated decorative paper for the furniture industry, and impregnated materials for footwear manufacturing. “We advise all residents in the surrounding area to close their windows and not to go out in the open during the intervention,” the regional broadcaster N1 television warned.

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It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the blast. The accident was described as “the worst industrial fire in Slovenia’s recent history.” The factory has about 200 employees. It had the necessary permits and good safety evaluations. Kocevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilic said the accident would not have big long-term harmful effects on the environment.