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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
In pictures: US chemical blast

Olive Chapel Elementary School provides temporary shelter for residents

Up to 17,000 people were told to evacuate homes in the town of Apex in the US state of North Carolina after a blast at a chemical plant.

Residents stand outside a shelter at the Olive Chapel school in Apex

At least 18 people were injured in Thursday's explosion which sent chemical clouds high into the sky.

Firefighters and fire trucks line up

Officials said the cause of the blast was not clear and the fire that resulted might take days to extinguish.

An elderly resident is evacuated from a nursing home in Apex

Evacuation orders were issued overnight. Those staying at home were urged to close all windows.

Residents stand outside a shelter at Olive Chapel school in Apex

Residents were also urged to turn off air conditioning units and look out for symptoms of chemical poisoning.

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