Near an industrial park specializing in chemicals, a large black smoke, visible from a distance, emerged throughout the day from the disaster area, a waste storage center and an incinerator.
“My thoughts are with the injured and their families. The search for the missing continues at full speed. Unfortunately, hopes of finding them alive are dwindling, ”said Lars Friedrich, director of the Sempark site where the incident took place at 09:40 am local time (07:40 GMT).
Rescue efforts are continuing to find the five missing persons. Thirty-one people were seriously injured, including three seriously injured factory workers.
The origin of the eruption is unknown at this time.
“I heard the terrifying noise of the explosion and immediately closed the windows and doors,” testified LK Pitcher, a Twitter user who lives near the factory. According to media reports, the blast was heard at a distance of about 40 km.
The smoke emission called for officials to “go to closed rooms, turn off air conditioning and, as a precaution, close windows and doors.”
The city later said the warning would not be valid until the end of the afternoon.
The damage could have been even more serious: the risk of an explosion in the second tank was even higher than 100,000 liters of flammable toxic waste after the fire, said Herbert Reuel, Interior Minister for North Rhine-Westphalia. The accident was averted by the intervention of more than 300 agents and firefighters.
The storage site and incinerator combine companies in the field of chemistry on the edge of the Semberg Industrial Park, one of the largest in Europe, located on the outskirts of Leverkusen (northern Rhine-Westphalia). Westphalia).
Headquartered in the chemical company Bayer, Leverkusen has a population of over 160,000 and is located about twenty kilometers from Cologne. The Evonic and Lancashire groups also have factories there.
The city of Leverkusen carefully examined the potential pollution that was released, however in the afternoon it was found that there was “no increase in pollution loads”.
The dusty fall was “a penny the size of a particle or an euro with oil stability,” he said.
“It is therefore recommended not to carry heat into your home, i.e. take off your shoes and put them in front of the front door,” he added.
During a press conference in Leverkusen, Lars Friedrich, director of Sembark, explained that professional work was underway to identify the composition of the smoke cloud.
The fate of this city on the banks of the Rhine has been linked for decades to the chemical industry, the third German branch of industry.
A dark day
City Mayor Uwe Risrat spoke of “a dark day for the people of Leverkusen.”
Residents were asked to report any suit or debris that could fall from the sky.
The fire that broke out in the fire and solvent tanks following the explosion was extinguished after several hours of intervention by firefighters.
Frederick said the three tanks were “completely or partially destroyed” and it is not yet possible to say exactly where the explosion occurred.
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