1 dead, 17 injured in blast in Japan’s Fukushima Perfecture, gas leak suspected


TOKYO — One person has died and at least 17 others have been injured in an explosion Thursday morning at a restaurant in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, reported Xinhua news agency, quoting fire department officials.

Investigators said the explosion occurred shortly before 9 am local time at a “shabu shabu”-style hot pot restaurant.

Police and fire department officials said that one body was recovered from the site, with two people seriously injured in the explosion, while 15 others suffered slight injuries.

The restaurant, located in an area with homes and eateries, was undergoing renovation work when the blast happened, and investigators said they believe the explosion was the result of a gas leak.

Police were quoted as saying that propane gas had been leaking out of several tanks that had fallen over near the restaurant.

Footage of the decimated building showed the ferocity of the subsequent explosion which completely blew out the outer walls of the restaurant building leaving only its steel frame remaining.

Windows in nearby buildings were also shattered by the blast, local media reports said, and walls of neighbouring buildings were also damaged.

First responders were alerted to the explosion in the city of around 323,000 people, by a passerby who heard a loud blast just before 9 am local time, according to local media accounts.

Multiple fire engines and ambulances were dispatched to the scene.

A 300-metre perimeter has been set up around the explosion site restricting access.