Investigators have so far found no evidence that an explosion at a bar in the Guam Hilton that forced tourists to evacuate was terror-related, officials said Friday.
The blast late Thursday injured two people and sparked a major security scare on the US Pacific territory, which is home to some 6,000 military personnel, with the FBI and Homeland Security rushing to secure the scene and investigate its cause.
Hotel guests were cleared from the premises while sniffer dogs looking for explosives reportedly swept the resort, but failed to find anything suspicious.
Police said on Friday that inquiries into the cause of the blast were ongoing, while Governor Eddie Calvo’s office issued a one-line statement saying: “There’s no indication at this time that this was an act of terrorism.”
“We have found no evidence to indicate that the explosion was a deliberate act,” acting chief of police Colonel Maurice Sayama said in a statement.
“Authorities will be clearing debris and concrete from the scene to allow complete access to the blast area and to check the integrity of underground liquid propane pipes that may have been the cause of the explosion.”
Police released updated details on those injured, saying they were a 22-year-old male Japanese tourist and a 38-year-old male guest at the hotel who complained of a burning sensation in his eyes and throat after being evacuated. Both were taken to the Guam Memorial Hospital, but their injuries were not serious.
A US official speaking on condition of anonymity said late Thursday that at first glance the explosion, which occurred during a barbeque demonstration at the bar, appeared to be an accident, citing a gas pipe as the possible source.
A local woman who recently visited the bar said she had noticed a strong smell of gas at the location.
Japan’s foreign ministry confirmed on Thursday that a Japanese man was slightly injured.
“There was an explosion. We know that a male individual received a very minor injury,” a Tokyo-based diplomat told Agence France-Presse, saying staff from the consulate general’s office on Guam had spoken to the man.
The ministry was not aware of any information indicating the explosion was a terror attack, he said.
A Honolulu-based FBI spokesman confirmed: “The FBI is cooperating with the Guam authorities in investigating the explosion.”
The Guam Hilton did not return calls about the incident. AFP