• Kyodo

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Local governments have been inspecting playground equipment nationwide following separate accidents Friday when two children had the tips of their fingers severed by the same merry-go-round in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture.

The latest incident is expected to have a huge impact on the use of play equipment.

In recent years, a series of fatal accidents caused by large cradlelike swing sets resulted in their removal from many playgrounds.

Friday’s accidents occurred on a four-seat merry-go-round at the Shimotanabe residential complex, managed by Osaka Prefectural Housing Corp. The merry-go-round is 1 meter high and 1.8 meters in diameter.

In both cases, the first involving a 6-year-old boy and the other a 10-year-old girl, the victims inserted their right index fingers into an empty bolt hole in the central axis of the merry-go-round and had about 1 cm of their finger severed.

Police are looking into how the bolt had come off.

The first incident occurred at 10:50 a.m. and the second followed at 4:30 p.m. Firefighters were notified in both cases, but police said they were not notified after the first accident.

A Kyodo survey carried out Monday found that 20 prefectures had carried out inspections at residential complexes and public parks under their management. Other prefectures are carrying out inspections or planning to do so.

Around 2,300 kinds of play equipment are subject to inspection and about 100 pieces in 15 prefectures, including jungle gyms, seesaws and the same type of merry-go-round involved in the Takatsuki incident, have been banned from use because they might be dangerous.

There are no national guidelines for inspecting play equipment. Nagasaki carries out monthly checks, for example, but Hokkaido carries out inspections two to six times a year. Tokyo checks its equipment once a year in addition to making routine visits, the survey showed.

Officials in Yamagata asked why two accidents happened at the same place, while Miyazaki officials wondered about the necessity of removing equipment just because it could be dangerous, reflecting sentiment voiced in the survey that it is difficult to prevent such accidents.

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