A fire has swept through a historic castle on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, destroying much of a structure that had come to symbolise the ancient Ryukyu kingdom and the island’s recovery from the second world war.
Fire engulfs Japan's 600-year-old Shuri Castle
STEPANAKERT, OCTOBER 31, ARTSAKHPRESS: Flames engulfed Shuri castle, a Unesco world heritage site located in the island’s capital Naha, at around 2:40 am and quickly spread to other buildings in the complex, The Guardian reported, citing local police.
There were no initial reports of injuries, but nearby residents were evacuated while firefighters spent several hours attempting to bring the fire under control.
“The cause of the fire has not been determined yet but a security company alarm went off at around 2.30 in the morning,” Ryo Kochi, a spokesman with the Okinawa prefectural police said.
“It started at the main temple and looks to be spreading fast to all the main structures ... firefighters are still battling the fire,” he added.
Television footage showed the multi-structure castle reduced to a skeleton, shrouded in flames and smoke hours after firefighters were alerted to the fire, public broadcaster NHK said.
While the cause is unknown, the blaze is believed to have started in the castle’s main structure. The main Seiden temple and a Hokuden structure, or north temple, burned down and a third building was nearly destroyed, Kochi added.
He said a tourist event was being held at the castle from the 27 October, and some work linked to the event continued until 1 am but it is not clear whether that was linked to the fire.
Nearly a dozen fire engines were dispatched to the scene, Kyodo news agency said.
Thanks to the faithful nature of the postwar reconstruction, Shuri castle was registered as a world heritage site in 2000 along with the surrounding complex and other Ryukyu sites in the region.