Blasts rock Texas chemical plant as Harvey weakens

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Two explosions were reported at a flooded chemical plant in the US state of Texas on Thursday, as the remnants of tropical storm Harvey moved further east near the Texas-Louisiana line.

Harvey, which was downgraded to a tropical depression late on Wednesday, killed at least 31 people and drove tens of thousands from their homes since it first slammed onshore as a Category Four hurricane on Friday night.

The death toll was rising as bodies were found in receding waters.

Early on Thursday, the Arkema plant in Crosby, which lost power after Harvey engulfed the area in extensive floods, was rocked by two explosions due to lack of refrigeration, according to its operator.

Fire authorities said that the blasts were small and that some deputies suffered irritated eyes from the smoke, but they emphasised that the materials that caught fire shortly after midnight were not toxic.

In the largely rural area surrounding the plant, officials said they had gone door-to-door to explain the situation and call on residents to evacuate, but leaving was not mandatory.

The plant was shut down before Harvey made landfall last week, but a crew of 11 had stayed behind. That group was removed and residents living within a 2.4-km radius were told to evacuate on Tuesday after the plant lost power.

Floodwaters also toppled two oil storage tanks in South Texas, spilling more than 110,000 litres of crude.

Source: Al Jazeera

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