BASF plant blast - several missing, injured

2016-10-17 17:02
Smoke and fire rise from a facility belonging to chemical firm BASF in Ludwigshafen, southwestern Germany. (Frank Rumpenhorst, dpa via AP)

Smoke and fire rise from a facility belonging to chemical firm BASF in Ludwigshafen, southwestern Germany. (Frank Rumpenhorst, dpa via AP)

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Ludwigshafen - Several people were missing and others were injured after an explosion on Monday at a chemical plant at BASF's headquarters in western Germany, the firm said, advising local residents to stay indoors.

The blast, which occurred around 11:30 (09:30 GMT) and triggered a huge fire, happened during work on a pipeline, the global chemicals giant said in a statement.

"Several people were injured. Some people are missing," BASF said.

A large fire and a huge column of grey smoke could be seen rising from the site, a vast industrial complex with a harbour on the Rhine river.

Firefighters were still trying to extinguish the flames by 13:30 GMT, while police had blocked off nearby roads, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

"Emergency services from the whole region are on the scene to prevent the fire spreading to other parts of the plant," Ludwigshafen city authorities said in a statement.

The company said residents in Ludwigshafen and nearby Mannheim should remain inside and shut doors and windows.

Local authorities have also asked nurseries and schools to keep children indoors, but no evacuations have been ordered.

"We are still investigating the precise cause. The relevant authorities have been informed," BASF said.

'Respiratory irritations' 

The site's steam cracker units - used in a chemical procedure to produce lighter hydrocarbons - have been shut down for safety reasons, it added.

Ludwigshafen is a city of some 160 000 people located around 80km southwest of Frankfurt.

City authorities said fire engines as well as a fireboat had been deployed to the scene.

On its Twitter account, Ludwigshafen added that some residents had complained of respiratory irritations.

An emergency hotline has been set up as well as an information tent.

The Landeshafen Nord site where the explosion took place is a harbour used for the transportation of combustible fluids and liquefied gases.

On its website, the company describes the site as a "very important for BASF's supply of raw materials", where more than 2.6 million tonnes are handled each year.

The goods are unloaded from ships into the production plants via a system of pipelines.

The company employs 36 000 people in Ludwigshafen.

Second incident 

BASF was also grappling with a second, smaller incident at its nearby Lampertheim plant where four people were injured in a gas explosion and had to be taken to hospital, DPA news agency reported.

That incident is also still being investigated.

BASF employs over 110 000 employees worldwide and with sales of more than €70 billion last year.

In the company's deadliest incident to date, nearly 600 people were killed in 1921 in an explosion at an ammonia plant near Ludwigshafen.

In 1948, 200 people died and more than 3 800 were injured when a rail tanker exploded, also at the Ludwigshafen complex

Read more on:    basf  |  germany  |  fires

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