One person died and four went missing as a result of a man-made disaster at a chemical plant in the city of Leverkusen in western Germany.
A chemical fire at the Chempark site where Bayer and Lanxess operate was extinguished following an explosion at 9.40 am local time (07.40 GMT). The landfill also houses an incineration plant, where, among other things, hazardous waste and toxic substances are disposed of.
“We are deeply shocked by the tragic death of one colleague,” Chempark chief executive Lars Friedrich said in a series of tweets, adding that four more people were missing.
Emergency services reported 16 wounded, among whom four are in critical condition. In addition, according to the authorities of the city of Leverkusen, five people were missing. The Welt TV channel, citing the city security authorities, reported that one person was killed.
The area around the chemical plant was fenced in and surrounded by firefighters and ambulances. The police asked residents living nearby to stay indoors and close doors and windows. They were also advised to turn off the air conditioning systems until the air around the facility was examined for possible toxic gases.
Immediately after the explosion, sirens went off in the city and emergency alerts in the mobile app of the German Civil Protection Agency warned citizens of “extreme danger.”
Leverkusen is less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from a region that was hit by a disastrous flood last week that killed at least 180 people. Several nearby highways have been closed.
According to the Chempark website, there are over 30 companies operating in Leverkusen, including Covestro, Bayer, Lanxess and Arlanxeo.