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Hotel where fire killed seven not up to code,HIROSHIMA

 

 

HIROSHIMA — Despite failing inspections for decades, no changes were ever made at the hotel where a fire killed seven on Sunday, the city of Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, admitted Tuesday, adding the facility wasn't even up to code at the time of the first inspection in 1987.

The municipal government initially said that although the Hotel Prince wasn't up to current building code, it met the standards at the time of construction in the 1960s and therefore the hotel owner could not be forced to make renovations.

But after checking records and related legal provisions, the city now says structural changes to the hotel put it in violation of the law as early as 1987.

"There was a breach of law and it should have been corrected. If (the hotel) had made improvements, the damage that occurred this time would not have happened," said Fukuyama city official Toyohiko Miyoshi.

Meanwhile, the Hiroshima Prefectural Police have identified the seven killed, including four Chinese residents of the prefecture, and three others seriously injured. However, their identities have not been released to protect their privacy, as the Hotel Prince was a love hotel.

All five inspections carried out since 1987 found a number of problems at the hotel, including staircases that were too narrow and the absence of noncombustible materials in the ceilings and walls, but no improvements were made, the city said. The latest inspection by the city was carried out last September.

According to officials, the four-story hotel was built in two stages: in 1960 and in 1968. It went through a major renovation in 1974, including removing a staircase, but none of the changes were reported to the local government. Although the hotel was up to code when it was built, the renovations fell short of the code at the time they were carried out.

The woman who ran the hotel reportedly told city officials she couldn't afford to make recommended changes to the facility.

Local real estate sources said the owner had apparently mulled selling the hotel.

According to investigators, the windows of the rooms were covered with plywood, which made it difficult for the firefighters to rescue those inside.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire.

 

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