US mil­i­tary de­pot blast, plant blaze hit Tokyo

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY HIROSHI HIYAMA

A blast ripped through a ware­house at a U.S. mil­i­tary post on Mon­day and started a fire, while a blaze broke out at a steel plant, in sep­a­rate ac­ci­dents around the Ja­panese cap­i­tal.

The ex­plo­sion at the U.S. Army’s Sagami Gen­eral De­pot in the city of Sagami­hara, some 40 kilo­me­ters (25 miles) south­west of Tokyo, sent sparks shoot­ing into the sky and trig­gered a blaze that burned through the night, but there were no re­ports of in­juries.

Ja­panese and U.S. base fire­fight­ers de­layed bat­tling the fire while the con­tents of the build­ing were as­sessed. Wit­nesses said they ini­tially feared a bomb had gone off at the mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tion.

The fire died out on its own about six hours af­ter it started shortly be­fore 1 a.m. (1600 GMT), with fire­fight­ers stand­ing by.

“We co­or­di­nated with U.S. fire units, and did not spray wa­ter as we waited for in­for­ma­tion re­lated to what was in­side,” an of­fi­cial at the Sagami­hara fire bureau told AFP, adding that more than a dozen fire en­gines were sent to the scene.

Sev­eral hours later a huge blaze broke out at a steel pipe plant near Tokyo’s Haneda in­ter­na­tional air­port.

The Kawasaki city fire depart­ment said the blaze at the plant, owned by a unit of gi­ant steel­maker Nip­pon Steel & Su­mit­omo Me­tal, may have been caused by work­ers who were us­ing gas burn­ers to dis­man­tle the site.

The fire was put out shortly af­ter 1:30 p.m. lo­cal time.

“The plant had stopped oper­a­tions in June, and there were not many work­ers in the fa­cil­ity at the time of the fire,” a com­pany of­fi­cial told AFP, adding that it was to be closed later this year.

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