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Japan car makers, retailers report minor damage from blasts at China port

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Several Japanese automakers including Toyota Motor Corp reported damage to cars and facilities after two huge explosions at the Chinese port of Tianjin tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored.

[TOKYO] Several Japanese automakers including Toyota Motor Corp reported damage to cars and facilities after two huge explosions at the Chinese port of Tianjin tore through an industrial area where toxic chemicals and gas were stored.

The blasts in the city of Tianjin on Wednesday night killed at least 50 people, including a dozen fire fighters, state media said. About 700 people were injured.

Toyota said on Friday the blasts broke windows at its car assembly, logistics, and research and development facilities, which are jointly run with China FAW Group Corporation . Operations had been closed for a week-long summer holiday and no one was injured, it said.

However, two workers at a dealership nearby were hurt by broken glass and there had been reports of several injuries to employees living in the surrounding area, including at a company dormitory, Toyota said.

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Some vehicles were "affected" by the explosion but Toyota was still trying to find out the extent of the damage and the number of vehicles involved, the company said. "In our current view, the damage isn't that severe," a China-based Toyota spokesman said.

Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd said more than 100 cars that were imported from Japan and were awaiting customs clearance in a warehouse had been damaged by broken windows. The warehouse, which does not belong to Fuji Heavy, is about 2 km (1.2 miles) from the blast site, it said.

The Tianjin port accounts for about 40 percent of China's imported cars, the largest share of any port, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mazda Motor Corp said an unknown number of its cars imported from Japan were also damaged, with peeling paint and scratches. One nearby showroom was shut on Thursday after its windows shattered, it said.

Shipping giant Nippon Yusen KK, also among a long list of Japanese companies with a presence in Tianjin, said it could not assess any damage at a roll on-roll off terminal it operates there because the area was off-limits.

A few workers sustained minor injuries at an affiliated car distribution company, which was also closed off, it said.

Among Japanese retailers, Aeon Co said a mall about 2 km away with broken windows was closed on Friday. "We want to reopen as soon as possible but we don't know when that would be," a spokesman said.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd had ceiling damage near the entrance of a department store about 4 km away, it said. It was operating normally on Friday, a spokesman said.

Otsuka Holdings Co said a factory that makes the Pocari Sweat sports drink 4 km away would be closed on Friday and Saturday to confirm the site's safety.

REUTERS

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