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Blasts At Chemical Plant Near Houston

U.S. -- Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017.

Two explosions have been reported at a chemical plant near the flooded U.S. city of Houston, its operator says.

“We were notified by the Harris County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) of two explosions and black smoke coming from the Arkema Inc plant in Crosby, Texas," Arkema said on August 31.

It also warned residents that there was a risk of further blasts, saying in a statement, "Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so."

Ahead of the blasts, the company warned that there was no way to prevent an explosion, and officials ordered the evacuation of an area within 2.4 kilometers of the plant, which makes peroxides used in the production of polystyrene, paint and other products.

During heavy rainfall from what was initially Hurricane Harvey, the plant lost the ability to refrigerate chemical compounds that need to be kept cool.

At least 33 people have been killed in Texas as a result of the storm, which has been downgraded to a tropical depression as it moved into neighboring Louisiana.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and the BBC