More than 40 people are injured in a huge explosion at a restaurant in northern Japan
- It is not yet known what caused the explosion but police have sealed off the area
- Some outlets are quoting the number of injured at 41 with one person critical
- Emergency services were first alerted to the explosion at about 20:30 local time
An explosion and resulting fire has destroyed a restaurant and injured 42 in northern Japan, police said.
Pictures shared across social media showed the wreckage from the blast, still engulfed in flames.
Rescue operations are underway after emergency services were alerted to the incident at 20:30 today.
A view of a site of the large explosion at an izakaya bar in Sapporo, Japan, December 16
Firefighters work on site where a large explosion occurred at a restaurant in Sapporo, Japan
It is not yet known what caused the explosion but police have sealed off the area in the Hiragishi district of Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido.
Witnesses also reported smelling gas in the area following the explosion.
The emergency services were first alerted to the explosion at about 20:30 on Sunday (11:30 GMT).
Police sealed off the area in the Hiragishi district of the northern city in fear of further blasts
It is not yet known what caused the explosion but police have sealed off the area in the Hiragishi district
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Reports suggest one person is seriously injured out of the 42.
Japanese reports also suggest that the restaurant is ‘Izakaya Cherry Blossom’ facing the national highway close to the Hiragishi subway station.
The two-storey izakaya bar was flattened by the explosion and nearby buildings were also damaged.
The area, 3km outside of the city centre, has an abundance of restaurants as well as being residential, Japanese media is reporting.
Reports from the scene also state that ambulances rushed people to hospital.
According to local media reports, an explosion that triggered a fire occurred at a restaurant
National broadcaster NHK quoted witnesses as saying the explosion ‘sounded like thunder’.
A nearby worker told the same outlet that the power of the explosion shattered the windows of the building he was working in.
The restaurant worker added that he saw ‘many injured people’.
‘The explosion in Sapporo is amazing. There’s no trace of the shop,’ said a witness.
‘The apartment next door is blown out, and all the glass of the apartment around is cracked,’ they added.
Debris covers the road outside the restaurant destroyed by a fire and an explosion
People watch on as the building burns and sends thick plumes of smoke into the air
National broadcaster NHK quoted witnesses as saying the explosion ‘sounded like thunder’
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