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Explosion at Japan steel plant injures 13

AT least thirteen people were injured Wednesday after an explosion at a steel plant in central Japan, an official said, the latest in a series of accidents at the site.

Television pictures showed clouds of black smoke billowing from the Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal facility in Tokai, where 3,000 employees were engaged in producing steel sheets and pipes.

A spokesman for the Aichi prefectural police said the fire department had been alerted to a problem at the plant at 12:46pm (0346 GMT).

A Tokyo-based spokeswoman for the world's number-two steelmaker said 13 people were injured, "nine of them employees (of Nippon Steel) ...and four of them employees of its partner companies".

At least six people were taken to hospital, private broadcaster Nippon TV reported, saying the injuries were not life-threatening.

Another local report said 15 people were injured, three of them severely.

"There was a small explosion that was caused by a fire at a coke oven," a Tokai city official told AFP, adding he did not know about the severity of the injuries.



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