Five Missing after German Chemical Blast Unlikely to Be Alive: Site’s Operator
Story Code : 945767
The blast injured 31 and killed two, with five people still missing.
Search and rescue operations continued throughout Wednesday at Chempark, located on the outskirts of the city of Leverkusen in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, RT reported.
Five people remain missing after the explosion, and there is little hope left of finding any survivors, park operator Currenta admitted.
“We have to assume that the missing people can no longer be found alive,” the company’s CEO, Frank Hyldmar, told reporters.
So far, two bodies have been recovered from under the debris. At least 31 people were injured during the incidents, according to local police. Five of those received injuries serious enough to require intensive care.
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It is still too early to tell exactly what caused the catastrophic explosion at the site, which houses some 30 companies including Bayer and Lanxess, Hyldmar added. The initial explosion ignited a holding tank containing solvents, leading to a major fire.
While focusing on trying to find the missing people, the company and emergency services are also monitoring the ecological situation around the crippled site. The blast and the fire covered its surroundings with soot, and experts are currently sampling it to determine whether the residue could be toxic.
According to an early assessment of the incident by the North Rhine-Westphalian State Environment Agency, the plume of smoke that emitted after the blast contained assorted toxins including “dioxin, PCB and furan compounds.” The agency said it “assumes” the toxins were carried into “the surrounding residential areas,” yet it remains unclear in what concentrations the hazardous materials were released.
Until the results are in, local residents are being advised to avoid getting the soot on their skin, bringing it inside, or eating vegetables and fruits from their gardens, a spokesman for the Leverkusen fire department said. It has also advised to keep children from playing outside, with playgrounds closed in the area.