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Chemical plant explosions in Japan kill one, may cripple global diaper output

Jiji Press / AFP - Getty Images

A cloud of smoke rises from a chemical plant in Himeji city, Hyogo prefecture on Saturday.

OSAKA — Explosions at a chemical plant in Hyogo Prefecture on Saturday killed a firefighter and injured dozens of people, the Japan Times reported, citing local fire department and police officials said. Global production of diapers could be affected because the plant made a key ingredient in a resin used in them, Japanese media reported.


A fire broke out about 2 p.m. after an abnormal chemical reaction at Nippon Shokubai Co.'s plant in Himeji, the Japan Times said.

The first explosion occurred about 2:40 p.m. as firefighters were spraying an acrylic acid tank with water, and the second followed shortly afterward, the Times said, citing Nippon Shokubai. The blasts set ablaze a fire engine.

A 28-year-old firefighter was killed and at least 30 people were reported injured.

Nippon Shokubai is one of the world's biggest makers of acrylic acid, the main ingredient of a resin called SAP, which is used in diapers.

The plant produces about 20 percent of the world's SAP and 10 percent of global output of acrylic acid.

Operations at the plant are likely to be halted for a long time and other makers of SAP resins are operating on a full-production footing, leaving little room for back-up production, the Nikkei business daily said on Sunday.

This article includes reporting from NBC News staff and Reuters.

Kyodo News / AP

Black smoke rises Saturday at a Nippon Shokubai Co. chemical plant in the coastal industrial area of Himeji, about 370 miles west of Tokyo.

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