Explosion in French college

Friday, March 24, 2006A large explosion ripped through a research building of the École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Mulhouse (ENSCMu) in Mulhouse, eastern France. Mulhouse’s mayor, Jean-Marie Bockel, confirmed that the blast killed one person and injured another. Police declared Code Red, and the neighborhood was evacuated.

According to the French Press, TF1, the victim was in his forties and had worked at the institition for about a year. A young woman was seriously injured and about a dozen people received minor injuries, with two suffering from shock. 150 firefighters were on the scene.

The ENSCMu is a technology college, with an enrollment of 8,000 and a 25-hectare campus near the town’s centre. It is known for its museum of coloring agents (Musée des Colorants), which has about 2700 samples, mainly from the second part of the nineteenth century. The museum’s database is available online in French.

The blast occurred at 11:25 GMT (12:25 local time). It is reported to have been heard two kilometres away and to have broken the windows of nearby buildings. The blast was followed by a fire that was contained by about 15:00 (local time).

The explosion’s cause is not yet clear but it is believed to have happened in a ground-floor laboratory in an annex building constructed in 1977. The lab was apparently focused on industrial safety.

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