An explosion at a chemical plant run by Mitsubishi Materials in central Japan has left at least five people dead and more than 10 others injured.

Police say the blast occurred at Mitsubishi Materials Corps’ Yokkaichi plant Thursday afternoon during maintenance. Around 17 people were hurt from the explosion and taken to nearby hospitals. Conditions of the injured were not immediately known. Five people were killed on the spot, reports said.

“The explosion occurred but there is no fire. We received an emergency call at 2:09 pm and at 2:21 pm the incident appeared to have calmed down,” A police spokesman told AFP.

Maintenance crews were cleaning out a heat exchanger used in the production of silicon products when the blast happened, officials said. Fire department officials, who were quickly on the scene, said there had been no fire and the situation was quickly contained.

Investigators suspect a hydrogen explosion caused by a chemical reaction triggered the accident.

The Japanese metal and chemical company manufactures a range of automotive, electronics, and construction and engineering products.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: Channel News Asia/AFP