National / Crime & Legal

Man referred to prosecutors over 2018 Sapporo explosion

Kyodo

A man who was working at a real estate office in Sapporo has been referred to prosecutors by police for allegedly causing an explosion by emptying deodorizer spray cans last year and injuring more than 40 people nearby.

The 34-year-old former Apaman Co. branch manager is suspected of triggering the explosion last Dec. 16 by turning on a water heater in the two-floor office after he had filled it with flammable gas by emptying the spray cans for disposal.

The explosion injured 46 people, including customers in a neighboring restaurant and passersby, as well as damaging the building housing the office and its surroundings, the police said.

The man, who faces charges of injury and destruction by explosives caused by gross negligence, sustained severe injuries. The police did not disclose whether he has admitted to or denied the charges.

He is believed to have emptied the spray cans with another employee on the day of the blast, investigators said.

Following the explosion, the police confiscated more than 240 spray cans that were intended for customers to remove odors from properties they had rented or purchased, they said.