MADRID (Reuters) – A flying metal plate could have killed a man about 2 km from the site of a large chemical plant explosion in northeastern Spain when it was thrown by the explosion and crashed into its apartment building, local authorities said Wednesday. .
Firefighters spray water after a large fire in the chemical factory, after an explosion in a factory in Tarragona, Spain, January 15, 2020. REUTERS / Nacho Doce
The explosion in Tarragona on Tuesday also killed a worker at the plant and wounded eight others, local authorities said, and sent flames and columns of black smoke that swelled for miles.
It is believed that the large metal plate was propelled to the third floor of an apartment block 2 km away by the explosion, collapsing its floor and killing a man one floor below, the Tarragona authorities said in a statement.
They said they were still investigating the cause of the man’s death. He was the only person in the department at the time his wife was out, the statement added, and there was no one in the department above, where the metal plate landed.
It is “almost incredible,” said the mayor of Tarragona, Pau Ricoma, to the Efe news agency, but added that it was the “most likely hypothesis.”
Catalan police posted a photo of the metal plate on Twitter, saying it was 122 cm by 165 cm and three centimeters thick. They didn’t say how much he weighed.
Local authorities said on Twitter that the other person killed had been located but not yet identified: “There is a structural risk in the area and work is being done to stabilize the area and reach the victim safely.”
The chemical plant complex was operated by the petrochemical company Industrias Químicos del Oxileno de Etileno (IQOXE), a producer of ethylene oxide, a highly flammable gas used to manufacture, among other things, ethylene glycol used in computers and vehicles.
The CEO of IQOXE, owned by CL Grupo Industrial SA of Spain, 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 the injured,” José Luis Morlanes told reporters.
The explosion took place in a part of the complex that had started operating in June 2017 and had been operating normally, he added, before Tuesday’s explosion of a 20-ton tank filled with ethylene oxide.
(The story adds the word “local” drop in the first paragraph)
Reports by Jessica Jones and Ashifa Kassam; edition by Jason Neely, William Maclean and Hugh Lawson