One dead, four missing after explosion at chemical complex in Germany

One person has been killed and four more are still missing after an explosion at a chemical park in the German city of Leverkusen.

Sixteen people were injured in the blast, including four “seriously,” the municipality said in a statement released after midday.

Rescue workers confirmed that they had recovered the body of one employee from the Chempark plant.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the death of an employee,” said the Chempark manager Lars Friedrich.

“Our special condolences go out particularly to the relatives, but also to the colleagues who have worked with him.”

Four other employees are currently missing, the statement added.

The explosion took place at around 09:30 CEST at a waste incineration plant in Leverkusen, a city in the western North Rhine-Westphalia region. The cause of the explosion remains unclear.

Germany’s Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance classified the explosion as “an extreme threat”, the DPA news agency reported.

The municipality said that a tank of solvents was on fire, but said that the blaze had been extinguished after four hours.

A fire brigade from Cologne, about 20 kilometres south, had been deployed to assist local emergency services, the municipality said.

Authorities had called for people to keep windows and doors closed and to keep clear of the Buerrig area where the Chempark is located.

Local residents have also been told to avoid eating fruit and vegetables from their gardens as a precaution. Several major roads nearby have also been partially closed.

The Cologne fire department has said on Twitter that measurements of the air’s pollution “do not show any kind of abnormality,” but that they would continue to measure the air for toxins.

Leverkusen is home to Bayer, one of Germany’s biggest chemical companies.