• Kyodo

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A furnace at a tire-recycling plant in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, exploded Thursday morning, killing one employee and injuring two others, one seriously, police said.

Shuichi Tsuda died after the blast ripped through the upper part of the 15-meter-high furnace at the plant run by Fuji Recycle. Hiroyasu Keda sustained serious injuries. The third employee, who suffered only minor injuries, has not yet been identified, police said.

An ensuing fire died down two hours later.

The three employees were working near the furnace at the time of the 9:10 a.m. explosion, police said. The furnace was used to melt used tires and to collect vaporized oil.

Meanwhile, a top official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the ministry would study what can be done to curb factory accidents and would take appropriate steps.

“Various accidents have occurred (in recent days),” said Seiji Murata, vice minister of industry. “We must deal with the elements that are common among them.”