• Kyodo

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A worker who fell into an underground sludge tank and three colleagues who tried to help him died Monday morning, apparently from toxic fumes from dye materials, at a textile factory in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, police and firefighters said.

Two other workers who also tried to help in the accident at the factory operated by Pyramid managed to escape to safety and are being treated at a hospital, the authorities said.

The four who died were identified as Iwao Kimura, the 54-year-old head of the factory; Shigetoshi Ogata, 58, a contracted worker; Nobuyoshi Nakamura, 47; and Hideharu Gohara, 40 — both employees of the textile company.

Hydrogen sulfide gas was detected near the site after the accident, which occurred at around 10 a.m. during an operation to clean the tank, the authorities said.

The tank is about 3 meters by 2 meters and about 10 meters deep, they said.

According to the company, the first worker began to clean the tank at 9 a.m. Monday and was scheduled to finish at 11 a.m.

The company’s main business is to develop textiles for industrial use.

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