After the explosion, the city’s famous football team, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, moved their training indoors to avoid the smoke.
“Everyone in Leverkusen knows the chemical industry, everyone in the city maybe even had someone in their family who worked there,” Mr. Richrath said.
On Tuesday afternoon, emergency response personnel focused on finding the missing workers. It is only after the site has been cleared that the cause of the explosion can be determined, Friedrich said.
Mr. Richrath, the mayor, announced the closure of the playgrounds and warned residents to wash freshly picked fruit or vegetables before eating them. Police closed local roads, including several highways near the plant.
Although the site of the explosion is just seven and a half miles from the city of Cologne, the city’s firefighters said in a Twitter message that the city’s air remains safe for residents.