CHIBA – Police said Monday they have identified eight of the 11 people who died early Saturday in a fire that ripped through a dormitory housing workers and owners of a construction company in Yotsukaido, Chiba Prefecture.
The 11th body was found Sunday.
Based on autopsies, the eight were identified as the family and relatives of the president of contractor Kikuchi-gumi and an employee. Police are still working to identify the other three.
In addition to Sakae Kikuchi, the 71-year-old president, the victims include his wife, Matsue, 65; their son Yutaka, 44; his wife, Chikako, 44; their daughter Miho, 9; and sons Yuta, 7; and Yuki, 5. The worker was identified as Takayuki Hirata, 43, from Hokkaido, police said.
The fire, which reduced the two-story prefabricated building to ashes, is believed to have started on the second floor.
Chiba Gov. Akiko Domoto on Monday ordered fire stations in the prefecture to conduct safety inspections of similar workers’ dormitories.
Firefighters said an ordinance requires caretakers of apartments or dormitories with a total floor space of 150 sq. meters or more to register the buildings. Kikuchi, whose building was about 500 sq. meters, reportedly failed to follow the prescribed legal requirements for fire prevention.
Kikuchi further shirked his legal responsibility by failing to have authorities check fire safety conditions and equipment at the facility, firefighters said.
A total of 42 people — 14 on the first floor and 28 on the second floor — were in the dormitory on Friday night. Most of them were sleeping when the fire broke out, according to survivors.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.