— 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
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
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