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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.

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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.