|Friday, September 21
Toulouse tourney canceled after plant explosion
TOULOUSE, France -- The Toulouse Open tennis tournament was canceled Friday after an explosion at a nearby petrochemical plant.
The ATP announced the cancelation of the event, which was to begin Monday, with qualifying play starting on Saturday.
"Our first and foremost concern is the well-being of the people of Toulouse in light of this tragedy," said ATP chief executive officer Mark Miles.
The blast at the AZF plant, which produces agricultural chemical products, killed 18 and injured at least 200. It caused extensive damage throughout the city.
Tournament director Patrice Dominguez and city officials reviewed the tournament site with structural engineers and found it sustained heavy damage.
"Fortunately, Patrice and his staff have been unharmed by this incident," Miles said. "Though this is a significant setback to the tournament in light of the extensive work they have done in preparation for it, we simply cannot conduct the tournament next week.
"The entire ATP family of players, tournaments and staff extend our heartfelt best wishes to ... the people of Toulouse."
Windows were blown out for miles and red plumes of smoke wafted across Toulouse, home to nearly a million people and the country's aeronautics industry.
Officials blocked off the industrial area just south of Toulouse, evacuated schools, a hospital, and other buildings, closed the airport and subway, rerouted drivers and told people to stay home as a precaution. The city's streets were virtually deserted in the hours after the late-morning blast.