At least two people have been reported are dead, and several workers are injured or missing, after a fire broke out following an explosion at BASF’s Ludwigshafen site, around 80 kilometres south of Frankfurt; considered to be the world’s largest chemical complex employing around 38,000 workers.

The harbour where the explosion occurred is a terminal for combustible fluids such as naphtha and methanol, important for BASF’s supply of raw materials. The chemical production complex is a dense network of more than 200 production plants connected to each other by over 2,000 kilometres of pipelines, and more than 200 kilometres of rail track.

Ludwigshafen also houses BASF’s headquarters and its centre of corporate research. The company said it turned off 14 facilities near the blast site for safety reasons, including its two steam crackers; large units that make important basic chemical components. It is unclear whether the production of chemicals aimed at the leather sector has been impacted.

The city of Ludwigshafen has urged residents in the surrounding area to stay inside, keeping windows and doors shut.