Tokyo, Japan – In a recent incident in Shimbashi, four people sustained injuries in a gas explosion and fire. The manager of the establishment, where the fire originated, revealed that they had noticed a gas odor moments before the outbreak.
The explosion occurred on the second floor of a building, causing billows of white smoke to engulf the area. Disturbing footage captured before the arrival of the firefighters shows intense flames erupting from the second-floor windows, with the window frames severely distorted outward. The adjacent intersection was also affected, as debris including shattered glass was blown away from the building.
The incident took place on “Karasumori Street” in Shimbashi, a bustling district located approximately 300 meters from Shimbashi Station. The area is known for its numerous restaurants and office buildings.
The fire broke out around 3:20 p.m. local time on the third day. Prior to the incident, reports of an explosion had been made. According to an eyewitness who captured the footage, a loud explosion resembling a “boom” sound occurred three to five minutes before the fire, and even a building 100 meters away could feel the vibrations.
Witness 1: “I was working at a nearby building when I heard a loud booming sound. Initially, I thought it might have been a car collision, but judging from the impact and sound, it was something different. I’ve never heard such a tremendous noise before.”
Witness 2, who works 100 meters away from the scene: “Honestly, I have never heard such a loud sound in my life. The building’s steel framework was shaking, it was like a massive ‘boom!'”
The announcement from the firefighting team urged anyone with relevant information or injuries to contact the nearby fire station.
The second floor of the building, where the fire originated, housed a café bar. According to the café’s website, it normally opens for business at 4 p.m. When the fire broke out, the staff was preparing for the opening. Fortunately, there were no customers inside at the time. However, the male manager in his 50s, a female employee in her 50s, and two passersby, a man in his 50s and another in his 70s, suffered injuries. The manager and the employee sustained facial burns and were rushed to the hospital.
One individual who worked at a different location on the first floor of the same building described detecting a gas odor even before the explosion.
Male employee from the first-floor establishment: “I arrived at Shimbashi around 2:30 p.m., and even in this location about 100 meters away, I could smell gas. As I approached my own shop, the smell became stronger, and I thought there might be a gas leak somewhere, but I never expected it to be in the same building.”
Takao Sakaguchi, Director of Citizen Disaster Prevention Institute: “Considering the items scattered by the blast, it is highly likely that it was a gas explosion. People in the vicinity also reported smelling gas, indicating a significant amount of gas leakage in and around the building. This area uses city gas, not propane. City gas is lighter than air, so it tends to accumulate higher up. Unlike gas appliances in residential homes, the gas equipment in restaurants and eateries is not required to have the same safety features. Gas cookers in regular households have safety mechanisms that shut off the gas supply if a leak is detected. However, such regulations do not apply to restaurants and eateries.”
According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, the male manager, who was hospitalized, mentioned that the explosion occurred when he ignited a lighter to smoke a cigarette in the smoking room, which he had sensed to be gas-laden.
Investigation Continues as Authorities Probe the Cause of the Shimbashi Gas Explosion
Authorities are currently investigating the precise cause of the gas explosion in the Shimbashi building. As the incident unfolded, witnesses reported a strong gas odor and a tremendous blast, leaving several individuals injured, including the café’s manager and employee. The possibility of a gas leak leading to the explosion is being explored. It is crucial for establishments using gas equipment to adhere to safety regulations and implement necessary precautions to prevent such incidents in the future.
© TV Asahi