Fire at Astron Energy’s South African refinery kills at least two

Astron Energy’s 100,000 barrel per day refinery in Cape Town was hit by an explosion in the early hours of Thursday, the company said, which a source said had killed at least two people and injured several more before the fire was brought under control.

The fire at South Africa’s third-biggest crude oil refinery started at around 4 a.m. (0200 GMT), said Astron Energy, which is majority owned by commodities trader Glencore.

“The resultant fire has been contained and all work on the plant has been suspended,” said a spokeswoman.

The Milnerton plant, which had been in the process of restarting after undergoing extended maintenance, was shut down after this morning’s fire.

“There are two people dead that I know of, and many injured,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media.

A company spokeswoman said it would release an updated statement later. The fire brigade referred all queries to Astron Energy, and the police did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The shutdown comes at a tricky time for South Africa as it reopens after its COVID-19-related lockdown. Industry body SAPIA said in May that the country was facing a diesel shortage due to a spike in demand as restrictions on movement eased.

Africa’s most industrialised economy is a net importer of crude and petroleum products.

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