Explosions at Waki glue plant hurled 6-ton fragment 600 meters into river


The explosions that ripped through a glue plant Sunday in Waki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, blasted a huge piece of debris into a river some 600 meters away, near an area dotted with homes and factories, plant operator Mitsui Chemicals Inc. said.

The debris, which was discovered near the mouth of Oze River by a local resident on the day of the blasts, measures about 6 meters across and weighs 6 tons, the company said.

It is believed to have been part of the factory’s roof, which was blown apart by the massive blasts, Mitsui Chemicals added.

“I initially thought it was a huge pile of trash, but when I looked closer, it seemed like the upper part of some kind of tank,” said the 74-year-old resident who found the debris. “If it hadn’t fallen into the river, it could have caused an even bigger tragedy.”

The stretch of the river into which the debris plunged is near an area hosting numerous factories and houses, on the border of Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures.

Multiple explosions ripped through the glue factory in the town of Waki at 2:15 a.m. Sunday, killing one worker and injuring 11 others. The blasts shattered windows at more than 400 locations in Waki and the city of Iwakuni, also in Yamaguchi Prefecture, as well as in Otake, Hiroshima Prefecture, a municipality the plant’s premises straddle.

On Tuesday, Mitsui Chemicals President Toshikazu Tanaka met with Yamaguchi Gov. Sekinari Nii and apologized over the accident.

Tanaka later told reporters that the company has no idea at this stage when it will be able to resume operations at the plant.