Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

Chemical plant explosion in Spain kills one, injures at least nine

The civil protection agency in the Catalonia region called the blast a ‘chemical accident’

Fire broke out at a chemical factory in Catalonia after an explosion on Tuesday, January 14 in which at least one person was killed. Reuters
Fire broke out at a chemical factory in Catalonia after an explosion on Tuesday, January 14 in which at least one person was killed. Reuters

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

A preliminary investigation indicated the force of the blast killed one person in a nearby district, said a press representative for the port city of Tarragona, where the plant is.

The regional fire service tweeted that the man had died in a building affected by the blast. They said one other person was injured in the building.

The interior minister of Spain’s Catalonia region said eight workers at the factory were injured, three seriously, and one person remained missing.

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

The civil protection agency in the Catalonia region called the blast a “chemical accident”.

It initially warned people in parts of the city and 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 three hours after the blast.

Interior department chief Miquel Buch tweeted that the fire was not toxic but he advised residents to remain inside.

The blast took place on the premises of Iqoxe, said a woman who answered the phone at the company but did not give her name.

Iqoxe’s website says the company is Spain’s sole producer of ethylene oxide, a chemical compound used for making detergents and solvents, as well as glycol, one of the main raw materials in the production of plastics.

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 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 the blast could be heard from miles away.

About 130,000 people live in Tarragona, which is 115 kilometres 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 Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had been in contact with the regional president of Catalonia, Quim Torra to offer help.

Tuesday’s explosion occurred only a month after a December 11 blaze at a solvent and industrial residues recycling plant in the northeastern town of Montornes del Valles.

After that blast, which caused no casualties, a cordon of 500 metres in radius was placed around the plant.

Updated: January 15, 2020 10:13 AM

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