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Chemical Plant Explosion in Spain Kills One and Prompts Order to Stay Inside


MADRID — An explosion and fire at a petrochemical factory in Catalonia on Tuesday killed at least one person and injured several more, prompting officials to block roads, suspend rail service and order nearby residents to stay inside.

The shock waves from the initial blast were felt several miles from the factory, the authorities said, and the one fatality was reported in a building damaged by tremors.

The blast occurred at about 7 p.m. at a factory housing the Iqoxe company on the outskirts of Tarragona, a city whose metropolitan area includes several hundred thousand people.

The factory is Spain’s only producer of ethylene oxide, which can be transformed into ethylene glycol, a chemical that is used to help manufacture a wide range of products, including antifreeze, packaging film, plastic bottles and polyester fibers for clothing.

The explosion was reported in a part of the plant that opened last year, after an investment of about 10 million euros, according to local news reports.

The authorities offered no immediate explanation for the explosion. Firefighters struggled throughout the night to battle the blaze, declaring it under control at about midnight.

The order to stay inside was lifted about three hours after the explosion. Quim Torra, the regional president of Catalonia, Spain’s northeastern region, told local reporters that “no toxic agent” had been detected in the air and that people should not fear for their health.

Two of the injured were being treated Tuesday night for burn injuries, and their condition was described as critical. Nine were injured in all, and one person was reported missing, emergency officials said.

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