Fears toxic cloud could drift across Europe after explosion at Italian plant.
An oil refinery in Italy has been rocked by a massive explosion.
The plant in the town of Sannazzaro dei Burgondi, north of Milan, is engulfed in flames.
A huge cloud of black smoke that can been seen miles away has covered the area.
Italian emergency services have ordered local residents to stay inside their home.
The Italian Department of Civil Protection in the province of Alessandria said in a statement “The fire occurred inside refinery Italian ENI energy company occurred around 15:40 (local time), causing a large fireball of tens of meters.”
Eni, Italy’s biggest refiner, said in a statement the fire had started at around 4.00 pm in the so-called EST plant at the refinery. The cause was still unknown.
“The fire is currently being extinguished,” Eni said.
Traders said the 200,000 barrels-per-day refinery had started a 30-day maintenance on November 6.
Eni built the EST plant, ENI Slurry technology, to convert heavy oil residues into petrol and diesel products.
A spokesperson for the Italian fire brigade said earlier on Thursday the fire was large and had sent up clouds of smoke.
“There’s a lot of smoke and we are currently evaluating whether any sort of evacuation plan may be needed,” Luca Cari said.