An explosion at an industrial park for chemical companies in Germany has killed at least one person, injured 31, and left four people missing.
After initial fears of dangerous toxins in the air, authorities have now said there is no air abnormality
Four of the 16 people wounded are in hospital with severe injuries
The city of Leverkusen has about 163,000 residents and borders Cologne, Germany’s fourth-largest city
The blast at the waste management facility of the Chempark site in the city of Leverkusen, near Cologne, sent a large black cloud into the air.
Fire officials who tested the air said there did not appear to be a danger to nearby residents after authorities initially urged people to shelter inside.
It took firefighters almost four hours to extinguish the fire that took hold after the explosion.
Germany’s Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance initially classified the incident on Tuesday as “an extreme threat.”
Later, however, the Cologne fire department tweeted that measurements of the air’s pollution “do not show any kind of abnormality.”
They said the smoke had gone down but that they would continue to measure the air for toxins.
The city of Leverkusen said in a statement that the explosion occurred in storage tanks for solvents.
It said four people were hospitalised with severe injuries.
Currenta, the company operating the chemical park, said the explosion happened at 9:40 am (local time) and then developed into a fire.
“Sirens were operated to warn residents and warning alerts were sent,” Currenta said in a statement.
Police in nearby Cologne said a large number of officers, firefighters, helicopters and ambulances from across the region had been deployed to the scene.
They asked all residents to stay inside and warned people from outside of Leverkusen to avoid the region.
They also shut down several nearby major highways.
Leverkusen is home to Bayer, one of Germany’s biggest chemical companies.
It has about 163,000 residents and borders Cologne, which is Germany’s fourth biggest city and has around 1 million inhabitants.
Many residents work at Bayer, which is one of the biggest employers in the region.