An aerial picture shows the burnt-out Soshiaru Heim, a self-reliance support facility, in Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan.
An aerial picture shows the burnt-out Soshiaru Heim, a self-reliance support facility, in Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan. Yasuhiro Takami

11 elderly folk die in home blaze

ELEVEN people have been killed in a fire at a low-rent residence in northern Japan that housed mostly elderly welfare recipients.

Five people were rescued, police said yesterday, meaning all residents at the facility had been accounted for. Three of the survivors were being treated at a hospital for non-life- threatening injuries.

Police and fire authorities were still investigating the cause of Wednesday night's blaze in the city of Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido.

NHK public TV coverage showed flames engulfing the three-storey building, which was surrounded by snow.

Police have so far identified the 11 victims only as three women and eight men.

Formerly a three-storey inn, the building had been rented by a organisation committed to helping people on welfare by providing food and assistance in finding jobs.

Kyodo News reported it was about 50 years old and lacked sprinklers, which were not compulsory for the facility.



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