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.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.

Read next

North Korea prison camp
North Korea extends prison camps rife with rape and murder