UPDATE: Body found after chemical plant explosion in Spain’s Tarragona

FIREFIGHTERS have found the body of a worker who was missing after an explosion ripped through a petrochemicasl plant in in Tarragona, Spain. 

This brings the death toll to two with eight people injured. 

About 30 teams from the Catalan fire department remain on the scene damping down. According to trade union sources the deceased was the shift leader of the plant where the explosion and subsequent fire occurred at the Industrias Químicas del Óxido de Etileno (IQOXE) plant, located in La Canonja. 

At the time of the disaster – 6.41 pm – some 25 people were working, out of the 120 on the staff. 

The president of the Generalitat regional government, Quim Torra, has today (January 15) promised: “Everything will be investigated, because we are in a very sensitive point of the country, and the citizens will want to know everything that happened.” He added that “the petrochemical complex is one of the points where everything must work like a Swiss clock.” 

The firemen have been working on cooling the outside of the ethylene oxide tank of the complex where the fire broke out. At around 2 a.m., for safety reasons, they suspended the search for the missing worker. This was started again this morning inside the factory premises. 

The police, for their part, are restricting access to neighbouring companies, while the Collapsed Structures Group and the Canine Rescue Group complete their tasks at the site.

The plant produces ethylene oxide, which is not toxic but highly inflammable. 

The explosion could be heard several kilometres away, and injured eight workers from the chemical company, two of whom were evacuated to the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona, one in a critical state and the other very seriously hurt. 

A resident of the Torreforta neighbourhood in Tarragona, some two kilometres from the explosion site, was the other fatality. The five storey building she lived in partially collapsed from the force of the blast.

IQOXE is the only producer of Ethylene Oxide in Spain, with an installed capacity of 140,000 tonnes per year, and 50% of this production is destined to the manufacture of Glycol, one of the main raw materials for the production of PET polymers. 

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Dilip Kuner

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