22 Jan Spanish factory explosion death toll rises to three, man likely killed by flying debris kilometres away
A flying plate of metal may have killed a man some 2 kilometres away from the site of a huge chemical plant explosion in north-eastern Spain after it was hurled out by the blast and crashed into his apartment building, local authorities said.
- The death toll stands at three, after a person with extensive burns died in hospital
- The blaze could be seen for kilometres and many locals recorded it on their phones
- Firefighters worked through the night to bring the fire under control
The explosion in Tarragona, south of Barcelona, on Tuesday (local time) also killed a worker at the plant and injured eight others, local authorities said.
The Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona then confirmed on Wednesday evening that a third person had died after suffering “extensive burns” in the blast, which sent flames and plumes of black smoke billowing for kilometres.
The explosion is believed to have flung a large metal plate into the third floor of the apartment block 2km away, collapsing its floor and killing a man in the apartment below, the Tarragona authorities said in a statement.
A preliminary investigation indicated the explosion killed the man in his apartment, and regional authorities said they were still investigating the cause of his death.
He was the only person in the apartment at the time as his wife was out, the statement added, and there was no-one in the apartment above where the metal plate landed.
It’s “almost unbelievable,” Pau Ricoma, the mayor of Tarragona told news agency Efe, but added it was the “most likely hypothesis.”
Catalan police posted a photo of the metal plate on Twitter, saying it measured 122cm by 165cm and was three centimetres thick. They did not say how much it weighed.
Regional firefighters for Catalonia said 30 crews worked through the night to combat a fire the explosion caused at the plant. Fire chief Albert Ventosa said the blaze was under control Wednesday.
The blaze could been seen for kilometres, and local residents posted videos showing the aftermath of the blast with flames and a big column of black smoke emerging from an area dotted with big industrial tanks.
Antonia Caballero, 65, was cleaning her house when the explosion occurred.
“I thought that the door at the front of the building had collapsed. I looked out to the window and I saw the flames. I went to the door and left right away,” she said.
“My sons called me. I though I was going to have a heart attack.”
Local authorities said on Twitter that the person killed at the factory site had been located but not identified yet: “There is structural risk in the area and work is being done to stabilise the area and safely reach the victim.”
The chemical plant complex was operated by petrochemicals firm Industrias Quimicas del Oxido de Etileno (IQOXE), a producer of ethylene oxide, a highly flammable gas used to make, among other things, ethylene glycol used in computers and vehicles.
The chief executive of IQOXE Jose Luis Morlanes said the company had opened an internal investigation into the explosion.
“We deeply regret the loss of one of our co-workers and the suffering of those who are injured,” he said.
The explosion took place in a part of the complex that had begun operations in June 2017 and had been operating normally, he added, prior to Tuesday’s explosion of a 20-tonne tank full of ethylene oxide.
Video Link & Article Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-16/spanish-factory-explosion-kills-three/11872576