Police, firemen search for cause of explosion that collapsed building in Japan's Sapporo

Media reports said that the explosion on Sunday (Dec 16) may have involved propane gas tanks in the building where the blast occurred.
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - Police and fire officials on Monday (Dec 17) searched for the cause of a dramatic explosion in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo that collapsed a building and injured 42 people.

Media reports said the Sunday night incident may have involved propane gas tanks in the building where the blast occurred. Sapporo police and fire officials said it was too early to say anything certain about the cause of the explosion.

Video posted on social media showed flames shooting up into the sky and debris-strewn streets.

"I heard a bang which sounded like thunder, and my condo was shaken," a man who lived nearby was quoted as saying by the Japan Times.

More than 40 injured in blast at Sapporo izakaya bar

  • More than 40 people were injured in a major explosion at a two-storey izakaya bar in Sapporo on Sunday night (Dec 16), Japanese media reports have said, citing local fire department officials.
  • Police are investigating the cause of the blast, suspected to be a gas explosion, that occurred at about 8.30pm local time (7.30pm Singapore time) at the izakaya Umi Sakura, located near the Hiragishi station on the Sapporo subway line.
  • No deaths have been reported. Of the 42 reported casualties, 41 suffered light injuries while one has been seriously injured.
  • The explosion caused the 66-seater eatery to collapse. It also shattered the windows of nearby apartments and food and beverage outlets.
  • The Hokkaido Police Department and other emergency responders have issued evacuation orders to nearby diners and residents, warning of the possibility of further explosions.

One man suffered burns to his face but his life was not in danger, the police said. Most of the others were treated for superficial injuries.

Kyodo news agency reported that fire inspectors two months ago found that most of the building's tenants lacked evacuation gear as well as devices to warn of electrical short circuits.