Five confirmed dead in Kočevje chemical plant explosion

Kočevje – Firefighters have managed to get through to the remains of the five persons who lost their lives in yesterday’s explosion at the Melamin chemical plant in Kočevje, south Slovenia. The investigation into the cause of the accident continues.

Commander of the Kočevje fire brigade and head of the firefighting operation Leon Behin told the STA the remains of the five victims of the explosion had been found at around 5pm yesterday.

This was also confirmed by the Ljubljana Police Administration.

Only one of the missing persons was said to be a Melamin employee, the rest were contractors who were working on the site at the time.

The two badly injured Melamin workers who were transported to the Ljubljana UKC hospital with heavy burns yesterday are still alive, according to the hospital, but in critical condition. One of them has still not been identified.

Firefighters safeguarded the site of the fire all night, while investigators, investigative judge and state prosecutor left Kočevje late last night and continue their work today.

The army decontaminated roads and walking surfaces around Melamin yesterday afternoon by removing parts of explosion and burning pieces.

Behin said firefighters would also be at the site today, and would clean up the area after police work was concluded.

The accident at Melamin, which produces plastic materials, paints, varnishes and other coatings and chemical products, not far from the centre of Kočevje, happened at 8:30am yesterday.

Apart from the five dead, six Melamin workers were injured, including the two who sustained life-threatening injuries.

The explosion occurred when epichlorohydrin, a volatile substance that was being transferred from a tank truck to an on-site cistern, burst into flames.

The precise cause of the blast remained unclear but it was likely the result of human error.