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article imageGerman firefighter dies 11 months after BASF explosion

By AFP     Sep 5, 2017 in World

An October 2016 explosion at the main plant of German chemical giant BASF has claimed its fifth victim, nearly a year after the accident, the group said Tuesday.

The firefighter died overnight between Monday and Tuesday of injuries sustained that day, BASF said in a statement.

"I am deeply affected by the loss of our colleague," BASF president and chief executive Kurt Bock said. "We hoped to the last that he would overcome his injuries, and we mourn with his family and loved ones".

An explosion followed by a fire rocked the chemical company's plant in the western German city of Ludwigshafen on October 17, 2016, where more than 35,000 people work.

Two firefighters and a sailor were killed that day at the plant's on-site harbour, while another firefighter died of his injuries about two weeks later.

Six others were seriously injured and 22 more slightly wounded.

Prosecutors are still investigating the cause of the accident, which BASF executives said at the time might have been caused by workers cutting or welding the wrong pipe during maintenance.

Almost 40,000 employees at the massive chemical works in Ludwigshafen are to hold a minute of silence at 11am (0900 GMT) on Wednesday in memory of their colleague.

BASF, a pillar of Germany's powerful chemicals industry, employs more than 100,000 people worldwide and had revenues of 58 billion euros ($69 billion) in 2016.

The group's net profit grew 23 percent to 1.7 billion euros in the first quarter of this year, higher than forecast by analysts.

The firm's worst accidents lie many decades in the past, including a 1921 explosion in a Ludwigshafen ammonia factory that killed 585 people and a 1948 accident on the same site in which 207 were killed and 3,800 injured.

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