A WORKER has died after a blast tore through an explosives factory near the government's weapons research HQ in Salisbury.

A second person was rushed to hospital in a critical condition after the explosion at the Chemring Countermeasures factory in Netton - just three miles from the MoD's secretive Porton Down lab.

A spokeswoman from Wiltshire Police said: "The ambulance service contacted Wiltshire Police and Dorset Fire and Rescue service at just after 5pm today following reports of an explosion at the Chemring plant on High Post Road in Netton.

"Six fire crews are in attendance from Salisbury, supported by an incident command vehicle from Devizes.

"An initial fire on site has now been extinguished and the ambulance service is on the scene.

"Two casualties have been identified - one person died at the scene, with the other taken to hospital in a critical condition."

A statement posted on Chemring's Twitter account read: "Chemring Group PLC confirms that at approximately 5pm on Friday 10th August, an incident occurred in a flare manufacturing building at the Chemring Countermeasures facility, near Salisbury.

"There has been one fatality and one employee is currently receiving treatment in hospital. The site was immediately evacuated, and the incident brought under control. The emergency services are in attendance.

"Chemring has launched a full and immediate investigation into the cause of the incident. A further announcement will be made as information becomes available. The thoughts and support of all Chemring Group are with the families at this time."

The company's website boasts: "Chemring Countermeasures is the UK MoDís design authority for all air IR decoys and chaff products, and the Eurofighter design authority for the Typhoon chaff and flare decoys."