• Kyodo

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An explosion ripped through a supermarket’s food waste disposal facility Wednesday morning in the city of Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, blowing away part of a concrete wall and injuring 11 people.

According to police, the explosion took place at Jusco’s Yamato Tsuruma outlet at around 5:10 a.m. The blast blew away a roughly 20- by 5-meter wall section.

Firefighter Tomio Oishi, 53, of the Yamato Fire Department, was seriously injured by flying concrete, while eight other firefighters, a police officer and a security guard employed by the supermarket sustained minor injuries, authorities said.

Although the waste disposal facility was located across the street from Yamato City Hall, there were no injuries to passersby or nearby residents, they added.

Police said they suspect that the explosion may have occurred as a result of gases released by raw garbage, and were conducting an investigation of the premises in conjunction with fire officials to determine how the garbage was processed at the facility.

Security guards at the supermarket reportedly telephoned fire officials at around 4:55 a.m. to report seeing smoke coming from the waste facility.

The facility is located on the southern corner of the supermarket compound, and takes up roughly 200 sq. meters. It was opened in November 2001 to recycle food scraps from the store into compost.

On Tuesday, the waste facility operated from 9 a.m. until midnight, investigators said, adding that they are also questioning officials from the manufacturer of the disposal equipment.

Aeon Co., who runs the Jusco chain, said Wednesday that it has dispatched officials to the site to cooperate with the investigation. There are some 100 Jusco stores with on-site waste-disposal facilities.

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