Subject: [cwj 33] Four Dead in Japan Chemical Plant Blast
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 19:24:04 -0700
Seq: 33

Saturday June 10 10:31 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. 

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