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Japanese Castle That Dates Back 500 Years Nearly Destroyed by Fire – Again

(TOKYO) — A fire broke out early Thursday and spread quickly through historic Shuri Castle on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, nearly destroying the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Firefighters battled the blaze for about 12 hours before bringing it under control in the afternoon.

The fire in Naha, the prefectural capital of Okinawa, started from the castle’s main wooden structure and quickly jumped to other buildings, in part because of windy weather. Three large halls and four other structures burned down, a fire official said.

No one was injured. The cause was not immediately known.

An annual weeklong castle festival that began Sunday was to run for a week but the remaining events were canceled. Event organizers were preparing the next day’s events at the castle until after midnight, but no one was there when the fire broke out, officials said.

Video on NHK public television showed parts of the castle engulfed in orange flames, then turning into a charred skeleton and collapsing to the ground. Many residents watched from a hillside road and quietly took photos to capture what was left of the castle before it was largely lost. Some people were crying.


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