At least one killed, over a dozen injured in explosion at German chemicals site

(BERLIN) — At least one person was killed and more than a dozen others were injured in an explosion at an industrial park for chemical companies in western Germany on Tuesday morning, officials said.

The powerful blast at Chempark’s site in Leverkusen reverberated through the surrounding city and sent dark plumes of smoke billowing into the air just before 10 a.m. local time. Germany’s Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance classified the explosion as “an extreme threat” and urged residents in the area to stay inside and keep all windows and doors closed.

Currenta, the operator of Chempark, which is home to dozens of chemical companies including Bayer, confirmed the death of one employee and said four others were still unaccounted for. City officials said at least 16 people have been injured.

The deadly explosion occurred at a waste disposal center within Chempark Leverkusen, where more than 5,000 types of chemicals are manufactured, and sparked a fire at a tank storage site. Firefighters have since extinguished the blaze, according to Currenta.

Pollution detection vehicles were also deployed to the scene to assess what threat the smoke could have on the surrounding air quality. Police in the nearby city of Cologne, about 12 miles south of Leverkusen, took to Twitter to advise people to avoid the area of the explosion, saying the situation was still unclear. Several highways in the surrounding area have been blocked off due to the incident.

The cause of the explosion was unknown, according to Currenta.

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