Explosion rips through chemical plant near Belgrade

A strong explosion ripped through a chemical plant near Belgrade on Monday, causing fire and injuries, the state Tanjug news agency reported.

The blast shook the area around Baric, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of the capital, as police sealed off the Prva Iskra chemical factory, which produces hydrochloric acid for civilian use as well as toxic hydrofluoric acid, used as a component for different household detergents.

During NATO airstrikes against Serbia in April 1999, the plant was targeted several times because it was believed to produce explosives and chemical warfare agents, including deadly mustard gas, the AP says.

Several ambulances were seen rushing to the scene of the explosion. There were no immediate reports of casualties.