Explosion at chemical plant in Slovenia injures at least 20 | Associated press

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — An explosion and fire at a chemical plant in southeastern Slovenia injured at least 20 people on Thursday as authorities urged nearby residents to stay indoors.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear, which was reported around 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) in the town of Kocevje.

Footage from the scene showed black smoke billowing from the plant. Local residents said the blast shook the entire area. The city, located about 55 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Ljubljana, has a population of around 8,000.

Authorities said two people suffered severe burns and were taken to a hospital in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. Two others were missing, they said. The Melamin plant has approximately 200 employees.

Regional broadcaster N1 said a local emergency council met for an urgent session as firefighters and emergency crews rushed to the factory.

“We advise all residents in the area to close their windows and not go out into the open during the intervention,” said N1 citing local police. “They must not approach the premises either.”

Emergency services reported the fire was extinguished by mid-morning. The factory building was badly damaged, they said.

Melamin produces chemicals such as melamine resins for the paper, construction, wood, rubber and lacquer industry, impregnated decorative paper for the furniture industry and impregnated materials for shoemaking .

The Slovenian News Agency described the explosion as “the worst industrial fire in Slovenia’s recent history”. A total of 17 industrial fires have been recorded since 1995, mostly resulting in property damage, the agency reported.

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