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Explosions at factory in southern Japan

[TOKYO] Explosions and fire hit an aluminium plating factory in southern Japan early on Tuesday, a fire official said.

Multiple explosions were heard at the plant in Kitakyushu operated by Shinkou Alumer Inc, according to a local fire spokesman.

"Our initial investigation indicates the possibility that water somehow got into a furnace in the process of melting aluminium and caused vapour explosions," he said.

Six employees working at the time escaped from the factory and no one was injured, he said.

The explosions and the fire, which were first reported around 6.24am (2124 GMT Monday), seriously damaged the plant.

The fire was under control and was nearly extinguished by mid-morning, the spokesman added.

Television footage of the fire showed thick, white smoke rising from the plant, engulfed in orange flames.

The fire comes after a huge blaze broke out last week at a steel pipe plant near Tokyo's Haneda airport. There were no injuries.

AFP