A huge fire broke out at a chemical plant in Tarragona, Spain following an explosion at the site. One person is reported dead and another eight injured.
The blast was reported at around 6:40pm local time on Tuesday in the Catalonian port city which attracts tourists with its numerous Roman-era ruins. People living several kilometers away reportedly felt its impact. As firefighting teams were dispatched to the scene, Catalonia’s civil defense agency warned locals to shelter inside with their doors and windows closed as a precautionary measure. Residents were also asked not to drive.
Authorities stated that one person was killed when the blast toppled a building, and eight people were reported injured. Two of those wounded suffered major burns, one of whom remains in critical condition.
AHORA: El momento en que se registra una fuerte explosión en un complejo petroquimico de Tarragona, España. Se desconoce si hay heridos por el incidente. pic.twitter.com/W72qOSvjWy— Mundo en Conflicto (@MundoEConflicto) January 14, 2020
Muy preocupados por la explosión que ha tenido lugar en el Polígono Químico Sur de #Tarragona.— Toni Carmona (@toni_carmona_) January 14, 2020
Esperemos que no haya compañeros o compañeras heridas.
Ante todo seguir las indicaciones de seguridad por los canales oficiales. pic.twitter.com/sKU4C1NMpn
The moment of the initial blast and resulting fireball was caught on camera. Videos shared on social media also captured the panic on street level, as a towering pillar of fire and smoke soared over the historic city streets.
Footage obtained by Ruptly also showed police cordoning off the area around the plant.
The fire is believed to have started in an ethylene oxide storage tank at the plant. Less than two hours after the explosion, firefighters said that the situation was contained, but work continued on extinguishing the burning tank.
The shelter order was then lifted by Catalonian Interior Minister Miquel Buch.
The plant belongs to chemicals firm IQOXE, and processes ethylene oxide. It is the only producer of ethylene oxide and glycol in Spain and Portugal. IQOXE invested more than 10 million euros into expanding the facility in 2017, bringing its annual production up to 140,000 tons.