Worker killed in fire at Total oil refinery in Britain

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A worker at Britain's third largest oil refinery died following a fire and an explosion at the plant, the company that owns the site said Wednesday.

French oil giant Total had earlier said that a worker was missing following the blaze, which broke out at 11:57 am (1057 GMT) on Tuesday at the Lindsey Oil Refinery near Hull in northeast England.

"It is with deep regret that Total Lindsey Oil Refinery can confirm that there has been a fatality following the fire and explosion at 11:57. The deceased has yet to be formally identified," the firm said in a statement.

It said formal investigations had been launched by police and health and safety officials, adding: "We are fully cooperating with these inquiries in order to understand exactly why this tragic incident occurred."

Two people had also been treated for minor injuries from the blaze, police said, which was tackled by more than 50 firefighters before it was contained.

People living nearby reported hearing the explosion that followed the fire across a wide area and black smoke from burning crude oil could be seen five miles (eight kilometres) away in Hull.

A union leader questioned Total's safety record.

"The fire started in a heater where the oil is heated to a colossal temperature," said Pail Whitehurst, of the GMB union, adding: "This brings into question Total's safety record yet again. They have to be held accountable."

Total UK is awaiting sentencing on July 16 for health and safety breaches in connection with the 2005 explosion at the Buncefield oil depot, which caused Europe's biggest blaze since World War II. It could face unlimited fines.

The Lindsey refinery, which started production in 1968, has a processing capacity of more than 200,000 barrels per day.

© 2010 AFP

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