VIDEO: E.P.

Two workers killed in explosion at biodiesel fuel plant in La Rioja

The victims are believed to be welders, who were working for a subcontracted company at the site in Calahorra

ISABEL ÁLVAREZ

Two workers died in an explosion at a biodiesel plant in Calahorra in Spain’s La Rioja region on Thursday afternoon, 26 May. The blast affected several tanks at the premises of Iniciativas Bioenegéticas SL located on the El Recuenco industrial estate.

Two people died at the site but the company’s 22-strong workforce were safely evacuated from the scene. Some 250 children who were in the vicinity on an excursion were also safely evacuated from the area.

The incident was reported just before one in the afternoon and firefighters battled to prevent the flames from spreading due to the volatile nature of materials stored at the site. The fear was that the flames would reach stores of methanol and other highly flammable products, which could produce new explosions.

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There was no evidence that there was any toxic gas in the column of smoke created after the explosion, but even so, and in anticipation of possible new explosions, the emergency services established a one-kilometre security zone around the plant. As one of the workers graphically explained, if the methanol deposits were ignited "the blast wave could reach the cathedral"

It is believed the two victims of the explosion were external workers, welders who were working for a subcontracted company at the site.