• Kyodo

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A worker was killed and four others were seriously injured Tuesday morning in an explosion on a tanker under construction in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The explosion aboard the 499-ton chemical tanker Enshu Maru, moored in a harbor on Nomi Island, killed Batilarran Anthony Bulan, a 28-year-old man from the Philippines working as a trainee for shipbuilding company Nakatani Zosen, local police said.

The four injured are Shingo Asano, 42, Morizo Kimoto, 53, Hiroki Okimoto, 18 — all residents of Hiroshima Prefecture — and another trainee from the Philippines, Rolly Panio Lagusae, 21.

Police said the explosion did not cause a fire or oil leakage and has not affected maritime traffic.

According to a police investigation and Nakatani Zosen, the explosion took place at around 8:30 a.m. when seven workers, including the five, were using blowtorches to make a hole in the metal wall between the pump house and the engine room.

Nakatani Zosen President Toshiyoshi Nakatani said the company painted the structure beneath the engine room Monday. A manhole in the floor of the engine room had been left open during the work Tuesday morning because paint thinner had been left in the space underneath.

Nakatani said he suspects the thinner was ignited by sparks from a blowtorch.

“It smelled of thinner, and an aluminum door had been torn open” by the explosion, said a local resident who boarded the ship to rescue the workers. He said he saw a man engulfed in flames run from the ship after the blast.

Police suspect the case to be negligence resulting in death and injuries. Nakatani Zosen had two fatal accidents, in 2000 and 2001.

Fire authorities said they detected flammable gas inside the ship when they carried out an inspection after the explosion.

Under normal procedures, more than one fan would be used to ventilate an area after paint work. On Monday evening, however, only one fan was reportedly operating.

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