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OKAYAMA – Twelve people were injured Sunday when a firework rocket exploded near the ground during a festival at a shrine in Okayama Prefecture, police said.

Yoshiaki Narasaki, a 63-year-old farmer, and two others suffered serious injuries including broken bones, while nine others sustained cuts to their hands and feet from fragments of the rocket’s cylinder. The incident occurred at around 6:40 a.m., police said.

All the victims were taken to a hospital, but none remain in serious condition.

According to investigations, the firework, with a diameter of about 10 cm, exploded near the ground as 50 to 60 people stood nearby. The rocket was set off as part of a display to mark the start of a parade featuring portable shrines.

Investigators are examining the cause of the accident and questioning the people who organized the firework display.

A 42-year-old carpenter who was standing near the site said he was knocked down by the blast, and after recovering, he noticed that three or four people around him had collapsed.

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