October 1, 2008

Building Fire Kills 15 in Japan

An early Wednesday fire in a first-floor video-viewing shop in a seven-story building in Osaka, Japan, killed 15 people and injured 10 more, authorities said.

All those killed were men who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning or inhalation burns, Kyodo news service reported.

The video business had 32 rooms, each equipped with a reclining sofa, TV and video recorder. It was occupied by 26 customers, two staff members and the manager at the time of the fire, Kyoto reported.

One customer who escaped the blaze was quoted as saying the building's layout "is so complicated that customers who visited here for the first time may have found it difficult to escape."

Authorities said they suspect the fire, which broke out before 3 a.m. and was extinguished within a half-hour, started in one of the rooms on the first floor. They were questioning the room's customer.

Such inexpensive video-watching businesses in Japan have become common in Japan, often catering to working people who need to stay overnight to avoid long commutes.