Fire nearly destroys historic Japanese castle

Fire nearly destroys historic Japanese castle

A devastating fire has reduced to ashes the main buildings of a monumental Castle located in the Okinawa, the capital of the southern Naha prefecture.

The main building, as well as the north and south structures of the castle have burned to the ground, local media said. The castle, built about 500 years ago by the Ryukyu Dynasty, was designated Japan's national treasure in 1933. The original Shuri castle was completely destroyed by the U.S. troops in 1945, during World War Two. Fire officials said it is highly likely that the fire started in the main building. A response from the emergency services was triggered after a security company alarm sounded at 2.30am, but the cause of the fire is yet to be determined. Three more trucks were dispatched 45 minutes later, followed by more calls until 53 fire trucks and 171 firefighters in all from Naha and surrounding cities and towns were on scene at 9:40 a.m., he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the central government would do utmost to reconstruct the castle, AFP reported.

Firefighters continue to extinguish a fire at the burnt-down main temple of Shuri Castle.

Officials' preparations related to an ongoing festival at the site had been ongoing until 1:00 am, hours before the blaze erupted. To contain the fire, they used more than 10 fire trucks.

Kochi said a tourist event was being held at the castle from Sunday, and some work linked to the event continued until 1 a.m. Thursday but it is not clear whether that was linked to the fire.

The Cultural Affairs Agency sent inspectors to the site to investigate the cause and examine the fire prevention system.

The park at the site was closed following the fire and it was uncertain when it would reopen. The castle had been scheduled as a stop on the "2020 Tokyo Olympics" torch relay route.

Mikiko Shiroma told reporters on Thursday that she is saddened by the loss of the historic estate that is a symbol of Okinawa.

"We have lost our symbol".

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