Five dead after hydrogen blast rocks chemical plant in Japan

Explosion at Mitsubishi Materials complex reportedly caused by maintenance crew working on heat exchanger

LAST UPDATED AT 09:55 ON Thu 9 Jan 2014

AT LEAST five people have been killed and 17 injured by an explosion at a chemical plant in Japan's Yokkaichi City, Sky News reports. 

The blast, at the Mitsubishi Materials complex, was reportedly caused when hydrogen was inadvertently ignited by a maintenance crew. The crew was working on a heat exchanger, used in the production of silicon products, at the time of the accident.

A Mitsubishi Materials spokeswoman said: "We confirmed that there was an explosion at our plant in Yokkaichi, where we produce silicon materials."

Police say the blast did not cause a fire to break out in the building and the situation is now under control.

Mitsubishi Materials makes automotive, electronics and construction products, the BBC says. Its Yokkaichi plant – located about 350km west of Tokyo - specialises in producing silicon.

RT points out that the accident isn't the first deadly blast at a Japanese chemical plant in recent times. Twin explosions struck a chemical plant in south-west Japan in April 2012, killing one person and injuring another two.

The massive blast, which was caught on video, damaged hundreds of homes nearby. · 

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