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LONDON (ICIS)--BASF is in the process of shutting down its steam crackers and other plants at the company's Ludwigshafen site in Germany following an explosion and fire during work on a pipeline, a spokesperson for the chemicals giant said on Monday.
A separate company source said earlier that naphtha imports had been halted and derivatives at the facility had also been impacted by the blast, which has left several people injured and some missing.
"Today, October 17, at 11:30 there was an explosion at BASF in Ludwigshafen at the North Harbor during work on a pipeline, which resulted in fires," the company said in a statement.
"Several people were injured. Some people are still missing. All emergency services are at the scene. This resulted in a highly visible cloud of smoke. Residents in the relevant areas of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim are asked to stay indoors and close door and windows.
"For safety reasons, the steamcrackers and other plants at the site are being shutdown. This will result in flaring," BASF said.
The exact cause of the incident is being investigated and the relevant authorities have been informed, the company said, stating that more information would follow later.
BASF’s Ludwigshafen site has two steam crackers with a total capacity of 620,000 tonnes/year.
Unverified footage posted online shows a large plume of smoke originating at a loading bay at the facility's northern site.
The company’s own fire department and the authorities are investigating the accident, a separate BASF spokesperson said in an earlier telephone conversation.
“Our fire brigades are on site trying to find out what happened. We are investigating possible causes.”
The spokesperson added it did not know the exact number of people injured or the type of injuries.
An information booth for local residents is being set up at Gate 11, BASF said.
Additional reporting by Nel Weddle and Graeme Paterson
Pictured above: the fire on Monday at
BASF's Ludwigshafen site northern harbour
Source: Unverified footage from YouTube user Ulli Z