An explosion rocked a warehouse at a U.S. military base in Sagamihara on Monday, but there were no reports of injuries.
Local fire department received a call about an explosion at the warehouse just after midnight. The firefighters were dispatched and the blaze was extinguished several hours later. The cause of the fire was not immediately known but metal oxygen tanks in the building may have exploded, firefighters said.
Huge fire occurred at the Sagami Depot, a US army post in Sagamihara, which is 40 km south-west of Japanese capital Tokyo. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said the incident was regrettable as it would cause great fear among the local residents. Japanese authorities do not have the jurisdiction to investigate an accident on a U.S. military base due to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.
According to local media, Commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Japan Col. William Johnson offered an apology to Kanagawa Prefecture Mayor Toshio Kayama in a telephonic conversation. Officials at Pentagon stated that they had received no reports of injuries and did not yet have further details about the incident. The warehouse contained no hazardous materials and that there were no munitions or radiological materials in the depot.
Inside the storage building were canisters of compressed gases such as nitrogen and oxygen, according to a U.S. army statement. A 45-year-old local resident said he heard the blast around 12:45 am and saw a cloud of smoke over the depot, which is only 1 km away from his home. He said a series of explosions stopped after 10 to 15 minutes, but he heard another loud noise half an hour later.
The latest incident comes when Tokyo is at loggerheads with the southern Japanese local government of Okinawa over contentious plans to relocate the U.S. Marines Futenma air base to a less populous part of the island. IMAGE/AP