At least four people are missing and feared dead after an explosion and fire at a chemical plant in southeast Slovenia.
Emergency officials said another two people were hospitalised in critical condition in Ljubljana with severe burns after the blast. A total of 20 people have sought medical assistance.
The explosion was reported at around 08:30 CEST at the Melamin factory in the town of Kocevje, which has about 200 employees.
The head of the company head Srecko Stefanic said that rescuers are searching for at least four missing people.
“Chances that they survived are slim,” he told reporters on Thursday.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Emergency agencies reported that the fire was put out by mid-morning and that the factory building was badly damaged.
Local residents said the explosion shook the entire area, and a cloud of black smoke could be seen billowing from the factory.
Authorities had initially asked people to stay indoors but have since said that preliminary tests show no health threat.
Melamin produces chemical products including melamine resins for paper, construction, wood, rubber, and the lacquer industry.
The Slovenian Press Agency has described the explosion as “the worst industrial fire in Slovenia’s recent history.”