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Saturday August 17, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday August 17, 2013 MYT 8:19:26 AM
Police investigators inspecting an explosion site caused by a gas cylinder at Fukuchiyama in Kyoto. More than 50 people were injured by the explosion just before a fireworks display. - AFP
TOKYO: Japanese police are investigating the cause of an explosion at a fireworks festival which left at least 59 people injured including some with serious burns when it ripped through the crowded site.
Witnesses recounted seeing victims, including children, screaming as they rolled on the ground to try to put out the flames, while the thousands who had gathered for the Thursday night festival fled in panic.
The explosion is believed to have erupted at one of hundreds of snack counters lining a nearby riverbank at the festival, which is held annually outside the ancient capital of Kyoto and attracts over 100,000 people.
Video footage showed the stalls, which had been selling drinks and food, going up in flames and sending smoke into the night sky, before a larger blast erupted.
Early accounts said it was caused by a gas cylinder, but Jiji Press news agency said police suspect the fire may have started when a vendor added gasoline to a running power generator.
Koichi Tanimura, head of the local chamber of commerce which organised the festival, apologised at a press conference yesterday.
“I believe the vendor should be held responsible, but we also have a moral responsibility,” he said. “I would like to apologise to those who were injured.” — AFP
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