RESCUE TOO LATE

Three killed in mine tunnel fire

Kyodo

Three people were killed and eight others injured after a fire broke out inside a mine shaft in Niigata Prefecture on Sunday, police said.

Tetsuya Hosaka, 23, Katsuhiko Shirai, 59, and Eiichi Mizushima, 42, were rescued from the tunnel by firefighters but died later.

All three were employees of Myojo Cement Co., based in Itoigawa in the prefecture.

The fire erupted at around 9:55 a.m. in Myojo Cement’s limestone mine in the town of Omi along the Sea of Japan coast, according to firefighters.

Eight others suffered either serious or light injuries, the firefighters said.

According to the police, the 11 people — seven cement firm workers and four electricians — began a meeting at around 8 a.m. in a break area in the tunnel, located about 6 km from the entrance of the shaft.

The fire appeared to have started in the break area, the police said. When the fire started, two people were still in the break area.

Police are investigating to determine the cause of the fire. The firefighters said they found four people lying near the area.

There were four other electricians, but they escaped from the mine shaft on their own, the police said.

According to the cement firm, the mine is located in a mountain about 900 meters above sea level.

Factory destroyed

YOKOHAMA — A fire broke out in a cardboard factory in Isogo, Kanagawa Prefecture, entirely destroying four buildings of the plant, local police said Sunday.

The fire started at the Yokohama factory of a corrugated cardboard manufacturer at around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. It continued for nearly 4 hours and 20 minutes, the police said.

A 51-year-old firefighter was injured while trying to extinguish the fire.

The factory lines were closed due to the Golden Week holidays and no workers were injured.

The fire was discovered by a courier service company employee who came to pick up finished products, and was reported to the factory employees.

The factory is located some 500 meters from JR Isogo Station.