Jabpanese Chemical Blast Four Dead

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Chemical Blast Four Dead, At Least 25 Hurt In Japan Explosion

T O K Y O, June 10  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. Japanese time, 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 Saturdays 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 a half mile from the plant, told Kyodo News. Fire officials said that one person remained missing


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), June 10, 2000

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