Explosion in Sapporo Seen Caused by Gas

Society

Sapporo, Dec. 17 (Jiji Press)--An explosion at a building in Sapporo, capital of Hokkaido, northernmost Japan, on Sunday is seen to have been caused by a buildup of gas in a real-estate office in the building, police sources said Monday.

The Hokkaido prefectural police department suspects that the gas filled the office and ignited to trigger the explosion, which left 42 injured people, aged from one to over 60, including many customers at an "izakaya" eatery also housed in the building.

According to some investigative sources, an official of the real estate agent said the explosion occurred after the work to release the leftover contents of more than 100 used cans of air freshener, before disposal. The official said the blast was set off when a water heater was turned on.

After the explosion at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday (11:30 a.m. GMT), the two-story building in the city's Toyohira Ward collapsed almost entirely and the flames spread to an adjacent fast-food restaurant.

Local fire authorities said nine propane gas tanks had been placed behind the building. There were five 50-kilogram gas cylinders at the eatery, while the real estate firm and an osteopathic clinic, also housed in the building, each had two 20-kilogram gas cylinders.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press