An enormous explosion shook a chemical plant in Geismer, Louisiana, just south of Baton Rouge on Wednesday. The blast was followed by a huge fire. Fatality numbers are unconfirmed, but it is likely they are “very high” according to authorities.
Emergency crews are on the scene and have reported injuries. A hazardous materials team has also been dispatched to the fire.
The Iberville Office of Emergency Preparedness says seven injuries were reported to them, according to local TV news WAFB.
After the initial blast, clouds of thick black smoke could be seen billowing towards the sky, visible from a local school. Flames could be seen rising from two separate locations.
“It looked like a pretty big explosion – it looks like Williams have taken all the precautions they can do to evacuate all the personnel. The firefighters are responding as needed,” witness Ryan Meador told local station 90 WAFB.
“Everyone evacuated to the road. Everyone is trained for something like this.”
St. Gabriel residents are being told to take shelter from Highway 3115 to Highway 74 as a precautionary measure.
Police Captain Doug Cain told AP that he didn’t know exactly how many people were hurt, but he saw ambulances taking “a couple folks” from the plant.
Williams Olefins, which owned the plant, are involved in the production of plastics with clients in the petrochemicals industry. The facility annually produces approximately 1.3 billion lbs of ethylene and 90 million lbs of polymer grade propylene.
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