Water, gas gushes out from shrine grounds in Hokkaido

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People look at a column of water gushing out from inside the precinct of Iinari Shrine in Oshamanbe, Hokkaido, on Saturday.

OSHAMANBE, Hokkaido — Water has suddenly started gushing out from the grounds of a shrine in the town of Oshamanbe in Hokkaido, and continues to spout upward.

In the evening on Aug. 8, a man preparing for a festival at the Iinari Shrine noticed water with a temperature of about 23 C was spouting upward more than 30 meters high with a booming sound. It is believed that a private contractor conducted a boring survey to mine for underground resources in the area, such as natural gas, possibly from 1958 to 1960.

Tetsuya Takahashi, a chief researcher of the Hokkaido Research Organization specializing in resource engineering, warned that natural gas is gushing out together with the water, “It would be extremely difficult if it catches fire. Don’t go close to it,” Many people are coming near the site to see the water although the town bars entry to the area within a radius of about 50 meters from the site.

“I’d like to discuss with the town what to do from now,” said Yuji Ono, 58, the shrine’s head priest.

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