Page last updated at 04:57 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 05:57 UK

Japan video store fire kills 15


Emergency services at the scene of the fire

A pre-dawn fire has killed at least 15 men and injured 10 others in a video rental shop in western Japan.

The fire broke out at about 0300 (1800 GMT Tuesday) and swept through the 32 rooms of the first-floor premises.

The business, in the city of Osaka, rented videos and DVDs and hired rooms where the customers could watch them.

Such shops are often used by workers who have missed the last train home, as they provide a cheap alternative to hotel rooms.

The store, called CATS, was on the first floor of a seven-storey building in downtown Osaka.

Complicated layout

More than 100 firefighters and 40 fire engines tackled the blaze, which was extinguished in one and a half hours.

The Japanese Kyodo news agency quoted a 37-year-old customer who managed to escape as saying he had gone to CATS around 0100 after work in order to stay there overnight.

He said the layout of the establishment was "so complicated that customers who visited here for the first time may have found it difficult to escape".

A customer could stay at CATS for up to 11 hours from 2300 at a cost of 1,500 yen ($14; 8).

Rooms have televisions, video recorders and either beds or couches - the films available include adult movies, cartoons and Hollywood films. Smoking was allowed in the rooms.

Each of those killed were found alone in individual rooms.

The authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Country profile: Japan
24 Sep 08 |  Country profiles

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