More than 14,000 people have been warned to stay indoors and prepare to evacuate their homes in northern Germany after an explosion and fire at a chemical factory
Local media reported around 300 firefighters were at the scene at Ritterhude near Bremen.
One man has been seriously injured and suffered third degree burns in the blast at the Bergolin plant.
The injured man was found in the rubble of the factory and several residents were slightly injured, police said.
A number of people living close to the scene have left their homes and are being looked after at local schools.
The explosion, which occurred at around 9pm, could be heard from miles away and sparked a huge fire.
Flames nearly 50 metres high were reported and the windows of nearby homes were damaged in the explosion.
Marcus Neumann, a spokesman for the Verden-Osterholz police, said the injured man is thought to be a plant employee whose car was found nearby.
He said the employee had responded to an alarm on his beeper and drove to the plant to investigate.
Investigators have been unable to access the site because of the heat from the blaze.
The plant is owned by Organo Fluid GmbH, which specialises in recovering solvents from mixtures.
“We had always looked upon this facility with worry,” Ritterhude mayor Susanne Geils told DPA.
“We’ve always said that this company is out of place here.”