Blast in northern Japanese town injures at least 16 people

TOKYO (AP) — At least 16 people were injured and being taken to hospitals in a northern Japanese town after a sudden explosion blew off walls, windows and debris in the neighborhood.

Koriyama fire department official Hiroki Ogawa said an emergency call reporting a blast came in Thursday morning, There was no sign of fire at the site, he said.

The cause of the explosion is still unknown. NHK television quoted a witness who was instructed by firefighters to stay away because there was a gas leak, but it wasn't clear if that was the cause.

So far, 16 people were being taken to hospitals. Two of them were unable to walk, Ogawa said.

The area has been closed off and neighbors have been evacuated.

NHK footage showed a building left with skeletons, with pieces of walls and window glass scattered around the area.