The castle is a major tourist draw in the southwestern Japanese island of OkinawaMore
01 November, 2019, 00:27
The firefighters are fighting to quench the fire, since early Thursday. 30 fire engines were sent to the site to extinguish the blaze, but seven buildings at the castle grounds have burned down, including the main hall and the north and south halls. Now, while the iconic Notre-Dame cathedral is being restored, another important historical building has caught on fire in Japan. Authorities said it was not clear what caused the blaze.
An unnamed firefighter in his late 40s was treated for dehydration; but his condition is not life-threatening, the spokesman said. There are now no reports of any injuries, but local authorities have temporarily evacuated more than 30 residents nearby.
Almost a dozen fire engines were dispatched to the scene, Kyodo news agency said, with unconfirmed reports suggesting other buildings in the complex may also have caught fire. The police are working to determine causes behind the fire.
Security guards near the castle were alerted after a fire alarm sounded and they saw smoke billowing from the main hall, police said.
As a symbol of the Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th to the 19th century, with kings during the era unifying Okinawa, the castle was built some 500 years ago and designated a national treasure in 1933.
The Guardian reports that "Television footage showed the multi-structure castle reduced to a skeleton". Naha is the capital of Okinawa prefecture.
Okinawa was under U.S. occupation until 1972, two decades after the rest of Japan regained full independence.
An annual weeklong castle festival that began on Sunday was to run for a week but the remaining events were cancelled.
The camps' commander, Marine Col. Vincent Ciuccoli, told Stars and Stripes by email Thursday that he first saw the news when he checked his phone at 4 a.m.
Shuri Castle was bombed by USA forces during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, during which about 200,000 lives were lost on the island, many of them civilians. "Our hearts go out to all affected". Due to the fire, Shurijo Castle Park (including its facilities) is temporally closed since this morning.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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