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Deadly explosion at German chemicals site declared 'extreme threat'

ABC News logo ABC News 7/27/2021

At least one person was killed and more than a dozen others were injured in an explosion at an industrial park for chemical companies in western Germany on Tuesday morning, officials said.

The powerful blast at Chempark's site in Leverkusen reverberated through the surrounding city and sent large, dark plumes of smoke billowing into the air just before 10 a.m. local time. Germany's Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance classified the explosion as "an extreme threat" and urged residents in the area to stay inside and keep all windows and doors closed.

a house with smoke coming out of it: Smoke billows following an explosion in Wiesdorf, Leverkusen, Germany, July 27, 2021. © Anna Fross via Reuters Smoke billows following an explosion in Wiesdorf, Leverkusen, Germany, July 27, 2021.

Video: Explosion rocks German chemicals site (Reuters)

Currenta, the operator of Chempark, which is home to dozens of chemical companies including Bayer, confirmed the death of one employee and said four others were still unaccounted for. City officials said at least 16 people have been injured.

The deadly explosion occurred in storage tanks for solvents at a waste management facility within Chempark Leverkusen, where more than 5,000 types of chemicals are manufactured, according to city officials. A blaze sparked by the blast took firefighters almost four hours to extinguish, according to Currenta.

a train on a track with smoke coming out of it: A dark cloud of smoke rises above the chemical park in Leverkusen, Germany, July 27, 2021. © Mirko Wolf/DPA via AP A dark cloud of smoke rises above the chemical park in Leverkusen, Germany, July 27, 2021.

Pollution detection vehicles were also deployed to the scene to assess what threat the smoke could have on the region's air quality. Police in the nearby city of Cologne, about 12 miles south of Leverkusen, took to Twitter to advise people to avoid the area of the explosion, saying the situation was still unclear. Several highways in the surrounding region have been blocked off due to the incident.

a steam train on a track with smoke coming out of it © Mirko Wolf/DPA via AP

The cause of the explosion was unknown, according to Currenta.

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