• Kyodo

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A naphtha tank fire at the Idemitsu Kosan Co. oil refinery in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, was declared extinguished Tuesday morning, some 44 hours after the blaze erupted.

According to Idemitsu officials, strong earthquakes Friday damaged the steel cover of the tank — 24 meters high and 42 meters in diameter — and gasified naphtha that leaked from the tank caught fire Sunday, possibly triggered by sparks or static electricity.

The blaze, which destroyed the tank, had raged out of control.

During a news conference Tuesday, refinery chief Kazufumi Ishida apologized for the incident and pledged a re-evaluation of the firm’s antiearthquake measures. Local fire officials meanwhile plan to investigate the blaze.

Idemitsu officials said the company had covered the top of the naphtha tank with fire-retardant chemicals after the quakes, but the chemicals were apparently blown away by strong winds that swept the area after the temblors.

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