Saturday September 29, 2012
One dead in explosion at Japanese factory
TOKYO: A firefighter died and 21 others were injured in an explosion at a large chemical plant in western Japan Saturday, a local fire department said.
A tank at major chemical producer Nippon Shokubai's factory in Himeji city, Hyogo prefecture, exploded after firefighters responded to an emergency call, according to the city's fire department.
"We have one fatality. Five in serious conditions, and 16 with minor injuries," said a Himeji fire spokesman.
The fire department received an emergency call from the factory at 2:05 pm (0505 GMT) about a fire.
Thirteen minutes later, firefighters at the scene reported a chemical reaction with a risk of an explosion at the plant, the fire spokesman said. The exact nature of the explosion, the reason for the original emergency phone call from the factory and other details about the case were not immediately clear, the spokesman added.
Television footage showed a continuing blaze gutting a portion of the factory, filled with dozens of smoke stacks and a layered web of industrial piping.
The factory is a major production hub of Nippon Shokubai and produces industrial chemicals, including acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymer, according to the company's website.
Officials at Nippon Shokubai could not be reached immediately.
Residents near the plant told NHK that they heard at least two explosions, with the earlier one shaking their houses and offices like a huge earthquake.
Himeji city is known internationally for its 17th century castle, designated as a World Cultural Heritage site.-AFP