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2 dead, 5 hurt in Shinjuku building fire.

TOKYO, Oct. 30 Kyodo


Two people died and five others, including a firefighter, were injured in a fire that gutted a massage parlor in a six-story building in the Kabukicho entertainment district in Tokyo on Monday, police said.

The fire, which broke out at around 6:30 a.m. and extinguished an hour later, swept through the Himawari massage parlor on the fifth floor of the Kabukicho Sanyo Building, located near Seibu Railway's Seibu-Shinjuku Station.

One 55-year-old man died in hospital after falling from the sixth floor and another man, aged about 50, was found dead lying on a bed inside the massage parlor.

The victims were among about a dozen employees and customers who were inside the massage parlor, which operates around the clock, at the time.

The police concluded the fire broke out in the massage salon and suspect a power short circuit triggered the fire.

The massage parlor was equipped with about 10 power-operated reclining beds. Police investigators found the electric cords for some of the reclining beds were badly burned.

Four other people -- two men and two women -- in a video rental shop on the sixth floor of the building were slightly injured and received treatment at nearby hospitals.

One firefighter was injured while battling the blaze, the Tokyo Fire Department said. About 10 employees of the massage salon and five customers of the rental video shop were rescued or escaped unhurt.

The manager of the massage parlor told the police there were seven female employees in addition to her in Himawari when the fire started, but the whereabouts of several are unknown and the police are searching for them.

An employee of a capsule hotel adjacent to the building said, ''It was suffocating because of heavy smoke coming from the fourth or fifth floor. We asked all of our guests to evacuate.''

On Sept. 1, 44 people died in a fire that ripped through a building about 250 meters away from the Kabukicho Sanyo Building. The cause of that blaze is still under investigation.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Nov 5, 2001
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