At least 14 injured in fire at Japan chemical factory

TOKYO (AFP) - At least 14 people have been injured in an explosion and fire that broke out on Friday (Dec 1) at a chemical factory in central Japan, rescue officials said, with local residents ordered to evacuate the immediate vicinity.

Television footage showed plumes of thick black smoke billowing into the sky from a factory belonging to Arakawa Chemical Industries, which manufactures chemicals for the paper industry.

"Fourteen people were injured... though we still do not know how severe the injuries are," Fuji City fire division spokesman Kazuhiko Hakoyama said.

"Those within 100 metres from the factory have been instructed to evacuate," added spokesman Hakoyama.

Officials said it was not immediately clear exactly what the factory was producing and there was no information on potential contamination or pollution.

Seventeen fire engines and nearly 60 firefighters were battling the blaze, according to local emergency services.

Fuji city is located in the foothills of the world famous Mount Fuji, around 100 kilometres west of the capital Tokyo.