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Twin Explosions Rock German BASF Chemical Facilities

At least one person died and six are missing following an explosion and fire at BASF’s biggest production site in Germany, Reuters reported on Monday.

The company mentioned at a press conference that the explosion occurred on a supply line connecting a harbor and a tank depot at the Ludwigshafen site at around 11:30 AM local time. The cause of the blast has not been identified, though police have ruled out terrorism as a possible motive.

The resulting fire and smoke plumes led to local authorities ordering residents of the city within fifty miles south of Frankfurt to avoid going outside and to keep their windows and doors closed.

Nevertheless, BBC News reported that BASF’s medical director admitted the situation was still fluid and changing from minute to minute. People living next to the site claimed to have had some breathing difficulties, but local officials denied that any public health risk existed.

“We will of course do everything we can to clear the matter up,” said Ludwigshafen site's chief, Uwe Liebelt, who added that fourteen facilities including two steam crackers were shutdown near the blast site for safety reasons.

A separate explosion at a nearby plant in the town of Lampertheim preceded the occurrence at Ludwigshafen. At least four people were injured at the plant that makes additives for plastics, which authorities stressed was not connected to the Ludwigshafen event.

Reuters describes the Ludwigshafen site as the “world's largest chemical complex,” covering four square miles and includes a “terminal for combustible fluids such as naphtha and methanol that are important for BASF's supply of raw materials.”

By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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