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Chemical park explosion sends huge black clouds over German city

One person has died after a huge explosion at a chemical plant rocked a German city, sending thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

Leverkusen was shaken by the blast, which was quickly branded an ‘extreme threat’ by the German Gederal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance on Tuesday morning.

Currenta, the company operating the chemical park, said another 16 people were hurt.

At least four of those are severely injured in hospital, while a further four people were still missing on Tuesday afternoon.

Officials at the Chempark site, based on the banks of the Rhine and about 13 miles north of Cologne, were not immediately sure of what caused the explosion at around 9.40am, which then developed into a fire.

They said on Twitter that firefighters and pollution detection vans were on the scene, amid initial concerns that dangerous fumes could be pouring into the air.

Later on Tuesday, however, the Cologne fire department tweeted that measurements of the air’s pollution did ‘not show any kind of abnormality’.

Explosion causes huge plume of smoke to fill German sky

Smoke pours out of German chemical plant complex in Leverkusen after explosion

Residents said the blast could be heard far and wide, adding that their windows were rattled by the force of the explosion.

Footage filmed from a nearby motorway showed orange flames being dwarfed by plumes of fumes rising high above the industrial park, where a number of chemical companies are based.

The head of Chempark, Lars Friedrich, said in a written statement: ‘We are deeply concerned about this tragic accident and the death of our employee.’

Currenta, the company operating the chemical park, said the explosion happened at 9.40am local time and then developed into a fire.

Emergency vehicles of the fire brigade, rescue services and police stand not far from an access road to the Chempark over which a dark cloud of smoke is rising in Leverkusen, Germany, Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
Emergency responders are battling the fire and treating the injured (Picture: AP)
A dark cloud of smoke rises above the chemical park in Leverkusen, Germany, Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
The explosion was quickly branded an ‘extreme threat’ and residents were told to shut their doors and windows (Picture: AP)

‘Sirens were operated to warn residents and warning alerts were sent,’ it added in a statement.

The newspaper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger reported that the blast came from a garbage incineration plant in the Buerrig neigbbourhood.

It added that several nearby major highways had been shut down by police and that the smoke was moving northwest, towards the towns of Burscheid and Leichlingen.

Locals were urged to stay inside and keep their windows and doors closed, while people not living in Leverkusen were told to avoid the area.

A dark cloud of smoke rises above the Chempark in Leverkusen, Germany, Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
Smoke from the Chempark in Leverkusen is headed northwest towards two smaller towns (Picture: AP)
Smoke billows following an explosion in Wiesdorf, Leverkusen, Germany July 27, 2021.
Residents said the blast shook their windows (Picture: Reuters)
Leverkusen explosion.
Two people were severely injured in the explosion

Firefighters from all over the region were reportedly called in to help extinguish the blaze – and it took them almost four hours to do so.

Helicopters, a large number of ambulances and police also attended.

Leverkusen is home to Bayer, one of Germany’s biggest chemical companies – which gives its name to the city’s football team and provides employment to many residents.

It has about 163,000 residents and borders Germany’s fourth biggest city, Cologne, which is home to around one million people.

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