Japan: Chemical Plant Explosion

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TOKYO (AP) - A chemical plant exploded today in central Japan,
injuring at least 13 people and sparking a fire that sent smoke
billowing through a town, police and fire officials said.

Tampa Bay Online

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), June 10, 2000


Nando Times

TOKYO (June 10, 2000 9:25 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - A chemical plant explosion on Saturday killed three people, injured 13 others and shattered windows in nearby homes.

More people were expected to report injuries from the blast in Gunma state, about 60 miles north of Tokyo, police said.

Two of the people killed were workers inside the plant, Kyodo News agency reported.

Most of the injured were cut by glass, said fire official Kiyotaka Watanabe. He said three people were missing.

The blast could be felt half a mile away, Kyodo said. Homes in the area were evacuated, and the highway near the plant was closed, police said. Windows were shattered in some homes, NHK-TV reported.

Footage on NHK showed smoke billowing from the plant in the town of Ojima as firefighters battled the flames. The fire continued to burn late today, police said.

The cause of the explosion was under investigation.


Saturday June 10 9:44 AM ET

Four Dead in Japan Chemical Plant Blast

TOKYO (Reuters) - An explosion ripped through a chemical plant in eastern Japan on Saturday evening, killing four people, injuring 25 and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of nearby residents, fire officials said.

The blast, which occurred at 6 p.m., gutted the plant, damaged scores of buildings and broke the windows of nearby shops and cars in the town of Ojima.

``We are currently investigating the cause of the explosion but it damaged several buildings within a 1,000-foot radius of the factory,'' a fire official said.

The official said that some four hours after the blast, smoke was still billowing from the facility and 30 emergency vehicles were on the scene.

He said the explosion damaged 200 nearby homes and knocked out power. Roads in the area were also closed and residents were being evacuated.

The factory, about 70 miles north of Tokyo, is operated by Tokyo-based Nisshin Chemical Co., producing agriculture and pharmaceutical chemicals.

In Japan, where zoning laws are far from stringent, it is not unusual to have homes near chemical and industrial plants.

The injured in Saturday's blast ranged in age from a six-year-old girl to pensioners in their 80s.

``I heard a tremendous sound and five or six windows were broken at my home. I can still see red flames rising into the air,'' Katsuyuki Kato, an Ojima resident who lives about 0.6 miles from the plant, told Kyodo News.

Fire officials said that one person remained missing.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), June 10, 2000.

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