PRAGUE – An explosion that destroyed large storage tank at a chemical plant near the capital of the Czech Republic on Thursday has left a toll of six people dead and two others injured and receiving hospital treatment, the company, officials and firefighters said.
The blast took place at around 0900 GMT in the town of Kralupy nad Vltavou, 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the north of Prague, at facilities belonging to Ceské Rafinerska, a subsidiary of Unipetrol which has formed part of the Polish group PKN Orlen since 2005, officials said.
“This morning there was an explosion without a subsequent fire in one of the tanks in the Kralupské refinery,” Unipetrol said in a statement. The company described the explosion as “an extraordinary event at the refinery.”
The cause of the explosion, which took place during cleaning operations, had not yet been established, authorities said.
Cleaning work was being carried out by a new company that did not appear to have complied with procedures, according to Deputy Mayor Libor Lesák.
Emergency services said two people were seriously injured and taken to the hospital in Prague.
Unipetrol spokesperson Pavel Kaidl also told reporters from Czech newspaper Právo that an explosion had taken place at the refinery and he confirmed there had been no fire.
Epa images showed emergency personnel working at the scene of the explosion, while a plume of smoke appeared to be rising from the site which was strewn with twisted metal bars.
According to preliminary evidence, the explosion did not cause significant overall damage to the plant, but the area where the tank exploded was completely destroyed.
Initial reports had said the explosion had taken place at a plant belonging to Polish company Synthos, which makes rubber and polystyrene.