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Three dead, seven injured in chemical factory blast in Spain

16 January 2020

Three people were killed and seven injured after an explosion at a chemical factory in Tarragona, Spain on January 14. One person was killed after a large piece of metal was launched into the air by the blast, landing on an apartment 3km (two miles) away.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

One person died at the scene of the explosion, while another died from their injuries a day later. Both were workers at the factory belonging to Industrias Quimicas del Oxido de Etileno (IQOXE). Local authorities described the incident as a “chemical accident”. 

A fire erupted following the blast with black smoke billowing from the factory in Catalonia, before firefighters were able to contain the blaze. Two of the injured are in a critical condition having suffered burns.

Although authorities said the explosion was caused by a chemical accident, they added that no toxic gases had been released into the atmosphere. Shortly following the incident, the civil defence agency had advised locals to stay indoors and keeps windows and doors shut. Over 20 fire trucks, 11 emergency service vehicles, and a helicopter attended the scene. Firefighters worked through the night, spraying chemical tanks with water to keep them cool.

The man killed by debris 3km away lived on the Plaça García Lorca housing estate in Torreforta. Local residents said they saw a “ball of fire” flying across the sky before landing on an apartment. Firefighters later confirmed that the debris was a metal plate from the IQOXE factory and weighed around one tonne.

One person who was initially missing was found dead the next day after a search and rescue effort had been called off overnight due to poor visibility and dangerous ocnditions. 

IQOXE, a subsidiary of CL Grupo Industrial, is a petrochemical company specialising in the production of ethylene oxide, glycols and ethylene oxide derivatives. CL Grupo Industrual operates in the consumer goods, energy, and industrial sectors.


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