Destinations

Fire rips through World Heritage-listed Japanese castle

A fire has destroyed much of a historic castle and World Heritage site in Okinawa, Japan.

The Shuri Castle, a popular tourist spot located in the capital of the Japanese island, Naha, became engulfed in flames around 2:40am local time and quickly spread to other buildings in the complex, local police told The Guardian.

Nearby residents were forced to evacuate while firefighters battled the flames for hours before bringing it under control, however, there have been no reports of injuries.

Shuri Castle is a hallmark of the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which dates between 1429 and the late 1800s, and later became a symbol of Okinawa’s struggle to overcome the second world war, which saw the death of around a quarter of the islands population as well as 200,000 Japanese and Americans during an 82-day battle in 1945. The castle itself was the headquarters of the imperial Japanese army attracting the bombardment of relentless shelling from the US forces.

A spokesman for the Okinawa prefecture police, Ryo Kochi, told the Guardian that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

“It started at the main temple and looks to be spreading fast to all the main structures … firefighters are still battling the fire,” Kochi said at the time.

Kochi said a tourist event was being held at the castle from 27 October with some work from the event carrying on until 1am but it’s unclear whether the timing is linked.

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