Powerful explosion in Japanese restaurant leaves 42 injured, cause under investigation

Police in Japan are investigating the cause of a powerful Sunday night explosion in the city of Sapporo, which ripped through a restaurant and left 42 people injured.

The blast caused damage to some surrounding buildings and started fires forcing dozens of residents into shelters, officials said.

Varying reports have been in circulation with some attributing the explosion to a gas leak while others said fumes were leaking from spray cans that had been collected for disposal at a real estate company in the building.

Some customers at the restaurant at the time of the blast said they had perceived the smell of gas, Japanese Kyodo News agency reports. Investigators are also looking into at least nine propane tanks installed in the building for the various businesses located inside.

"There was an enormous sound, 'bang', then when I looked up at the sky it was filled with plumes of smoke," an elderly woman said in footage on public broadcaster NHK.

"The ceiling fell, then the entire second floor collapsed and we were all stuck. We managed to escape after everyone kicked through the wall," a person who was in the restaurant at the time told Kyodo.

Police reports indicates no fatalities. A man who suffered burns and a woman who broke her leg trying to escape the fire by jumping from the building were among the 42 --including several children-- injured by the blast.

"We are investigating details about the damage together with police at the scene," the fire department official said.

The blast occurred at about 8.30 pm local time(1130 GMT), causing a temporary blackout in 250 buildings but power has been restored, the official said.

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