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