A body has been recovered but four people remain missing, following an explosion at a German industrial park for chemical companies.
The blast in Leverkusen, which has left at least sixteen other people injured, was declared an “extreme threat” by authorities.
Company officials said one body has now been found following the explosion, which happened at 9.40am local time (7.40am GMT).
Firefighters from the site fire department are on duty.
The head of the industrial park, Lars Friedrich, said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the death of an employee.
“Our special condolences go out particularly to the relatives, but also to the colleagues who have worked with him.”
The explosion caused a fire at a fuel depot at Chempark, an industrial park for chemical companies including Bayer and Lanxess, and took crews almost four hours to extinguish.
Chempark operator Currenta said multiple staff were hurt, with one person facing possible life-threatening injuries. It said it hopes those who remain missing will be found alive.
It is not yet clear what caused the explosion.
It is not yet clear what caused the explosion, Currenta added.
Sirens and emergency alerts on the German civil protection agency’s mobile phone app warned citizens of “extreme danger”.
A large number of police, firefighters, helicopters and ambulances were deployed to the scene.
“This is a tragic moment for the city of Leverkusen,” said Uwe Richrath, mayor of the city.
Smoke billows following an explosion in Leverkusen, Germany. Pic: Reuters
Residents have been asked to remain inside their homes, keeping doors and windows closed.
Currenta said air conditioning systems should also be turned off while it measured the air around the site for possible toxic gas.
Cologne Fire Brigade later tweeted that measurements of the air pollution showed “there is currently no danger” as there are “no abnormalities”.
Emergency services at the scene.
Motorways nearby have been closed with drivers told to take detours and avoid the area.
The city of Leverkusen said in a statement that the explosion at the Chempark site, about 20 kilometers (13 miles) north of Cologne on the Rhine river, occurred in storage tanks for solvents.
It is less than 50 km (30 miles) from the region hit last week by catastrophic floods that killed at least 180 people.