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Toxic cloud spreads after chemical blast near Barcelona

AFP, Spanish Civil Defence handout I A toxic orange cloud spreads after a chemical explosion in the Spanish northeastern Catalonian town of Igualada on February 12, 2015

Three people were injured in an explosion at a chemical plant in northern Spain on Thursday and authorities advised residents of several small towns near Barcelona to stay indoors as a large toxic cloud spread over the area.

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The regional government of Catalonia said in a statement that the blast appeared to have been caused by two chemicals coming into contact during delivery to the plant, owned by Spanish company Simar.

Simar could not immediately be reached for comment.

A thick orange cloud could be seen emanating from the site in Igualada, a town of 40,000 located some 60 km (40 miles) from Barcelona, according to pictures and television footage of the incident. The cloud then spread over residential areas nearby.

One of the two chemicals involved, nitric acid, was corrosive and toxic, authorities said.

Catalan authorities told people to shut their windows and stay inside as a precaution, and cut off some roads in the area as well as a train line. About 60 firemen wearing protective gear patrolled the city to enforce the curfew.

By 1100 GMT, however, the confinement order was partially lifted, although emergency services were still advising children and elderly people as well as pregnant woman to stay indoors in six affected towns.

Local emergency services received 22 calls about respiratory problems, according to  AFP.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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