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Japan

Four killed, seven injured in fire at Japanese ‘soapland’ bathhouse

Emergency services received calls from people inside the establishment saying they could not escape because the building was filled with smoke

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 10:55am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 11:03pm

Police are investigating the cause of a fire that killed four people and injured seven at a “soapland” establishment near Tokyo offering sexual services.

The blaze occurred Sunday afternoon in a three-storey building that houses the establishment, in the city of Saitama, 25 kilometres north of Tokyo. Soaplands are bathhouses that offer sexual services.

It took about five hours to extinguish the fire.

“A man who appeared to be in his 40s and two women who appeared to be in their 20s died after being sent to a hospital,” a police spokesman said.

“We also found a body whose gender is undetermined inside the establishment,” he added.

The seven people were slightly injured and treated in hospital.

Emergency services received calls from people inside the establishment saying they could not escape because the building was filled with smoke, according to NHK.

Police are investigating what caused the fire and the identity of the people who died.

According to neighbours, it was windy when the fire broke out and black smoke was coming out of the building.

The parlour, called “Kawaii Omiya” and located in an adult entertainment district, had no problems with its fire protection facilities when Saitama city’s fire service conducted an on-site inspection in June last year.

But at that time, the fire service said it instructed the parlour’s operator to remove objects in a corridor to make space for people to evacuate in case of emergency, adding that the operator followed the instruction.

Agence France-Presse, Kyodo