Bad news from Germany this morning. There’s apparently been a very large explosion at the BASF Ludwigshafen facility. If you’ve ever been through that part of the country, you’ll know that that’s a big site in a very dense industrial area: here’s some video taken a bit earlier today. German media reports are that many people have been injured and many others are missing, which is not a good thing to hear at all.
The explosion appears to have taken place at a pipeline installation in the North Harbor area off the Rhine, but there seems to be detailed no information released yet from BASF or the local authorities about what actually exploded. The Landeshafen-Nord facility handles an awful lot of large quantities of potentially explosive material; both liquids and compressed liquified gases are pumped from tanker ships directly to the rest of the BASF plant. So there are a number of possibilities for both the substances involved and the reason for an explosion. Everything from static electricity on up is a possibility for the latter, and as for the material, the video footage looks like a compressed gas release, but it’s really impossible to say just yet. More details as they become available.
Update: looks like two firefighters were indeed killed, and as I write there’s still one person listed as “missing”. The fire was at two pipelines that handle ethylene and propylene.