Thu, Jan 16, 2020 - Page 6 News List

Plant explosion kills 1, injures at least 9 in Spain

‘CHEMICAL ACCIDENT’:People in nearby towns were warned not to go outside, but containment measures were lifted after about three hours


Firefighters and police are deployed to the surroundings of a petrochemical company during the search for a missing worker in Tarragona, Spain, yesterday.

Photo: EFE

A massive explosion at a petrochemical plant in northeastern Spain on Tuesday killed one person and injured at least nine others, three seriously, regional authorities said.

A press spokesman for the port city of Tarragona, where the plant is located, said a preliminary investigation indicated the force of the blast killed a man in a nearby neighborhood.

The spokesman said he had no further details.

He spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with city hall regulations.

The regional fire service tweeted that the man had died in a building affected by the blast.

One other person was injured in the building, they said.

Catalan Minister of the Interior Miquel Buch said that eight workers at the factory were injured, three seriously, and one person remained missing.

Emergency services said that two of the injured were being treated for major burns.

The civil protection agency in the Catalonia region called the blast a “chemical accident” and initially warned people in parts of the city of just more than 130,000 and in nearby towns to refrain from going outside as preventive measures.

The confinement measures were lifted and two roads that had been cordoned off were reopened about three hours after the evening blast.

Buch tweeted that the fire was not toxic, but he advised residents to remain inside.

The blast took place on the premises of IQOXE, according to a woman who answered the telephone at the company and who quickly hung up without giving her name.

According to the company’s Web site, IQOXE is Spain’s sole producer of ethylene oxide, a chemical compound used for making detergents, solvents and other products, as well as glycol, one of the main raw materials in the production of plastics.

Local residents posted videos showing the aftermath of the blast, with flames and a big column of black smoke emerging from an area dotted with big industrial tanks.

Fire departments sent 29 brigades to the area, the regional emergency service said.

It said that firefighters were inspecting the complex’s building structures as well, trying to fully extinguish the fire in one ethylene oxide tank.

Some local residents told Tarragona Radio that the blast could be heard kilometers away.

Tarragona is 115km southwest of Barcelona, the regional capital of Spain’s Catalonia region.

Since 2015, the city has housed a 1,200 hectare “chemical hub,” ChemMed, that was described as the largest of its kind in southern Europe.

The government said that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had been in contact with Catalan President Quim Torra, to inquire about the blast and offer help.

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