Massive explosion rocks German chemical plant (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

A powerful explosion heard from kilometers away has rocked a chemical plant near Bremen, in northern Germany. At least one person has reportedly been injured while the plant buildings sustained “serious damage,” first responders say.

More than 300 firefighters have been called in to battle the explosion and massive fire at the Bergolin company plant in Ritterhude, a city north of Bremen with a population of 15,000. The plant reportedly produces primarily industrial coatings.

The explosion was heard several kilometres away, a spokesperson for the local police department told the Bild newspaper. Several plant buildings were on fire and one factory employee has been reported missing from the scene of the accident.

“We have so far only discovered his car,” police spokesman Mark Neumann said in the late evening, following a blast that occurred around 20:30 local time. Local authorities say that at least one person was seriously injured but they could not say whether this was the missing employee.

Police said that around midnight local time, the fire had been largely brought under control, Spiegel reports.

Several surrounding homes were badly damaged by the blast, with some in danger of collapse, a police spokesman added. Locals were asked to stay indoors as black smoke was seen in the sky following the incident.

Authorities deployed 60 police officers in addition to some 300 firefighters. The railway line between Bremen and Bremerhaven was initially blocked after the accident.