Catalonia’s civil defense agency warned locals to shelter indoors as a precautionary measure. The shelter order was later lifted, Interior Minister Miquel Buch confirmed to local media.
The moment of the initial blast and resulting fireball was caught on camera. The explosion occurred at a chemical plant between Bonavista and La Canonja which processes ethylene oxide. An initial explosion reportedly took place in an ethylene oxide tank, followed by a second in another area.
One person was killed when the blast toppled a building, the civil defense agency confirmed. Another six have been reported injured. Among them, two are seriously burned.
Eight firefighting teams were deployed to tackle the blaze, according to local authorities. Footage and photos shared online by residents in the surrounding area show an enormous blaze at the facility, with clouds of dense smoke rising above.
The explosion reportedly happened at around 6.40pm local time, and people living several kilometers away from the site are claiming to have felt its impact.
In an alert issued by Catalonia’s Directorate General of Civil Protection, residents are being told to“lock yourself in a building and close doors and windows,” although no toxic cloud has been recorded.
People are also being asked not to drive in the immediate area, and rail services have been suspended.
Firefighters managed to contain the fire less than two hours after it broke out, yet a tank of ethylene oxide is reportedly still ablaze.
According to local reports, the plant affected belongs to IQOXE, and is the only producer of ethylene oxide and glycol in Spain and Portugal.
Some 200,000 people live in the port city of Tarragona, which was founded in the 5th Century BC. The city’s Roman ruins are a major tourist draw, and have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.