• Kyodo

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Fifteen people, including two who died, had to be rushed by ambulance to hospitals in Tokyo on Monday after choking on mochi, a sticky rice cake that is a traditional New Year’s dish.

According to the Tokyo Fire Department, the two who died were a man in his 50s and another in his 80s. Seven others were in critical condition when they were taken to hospital.

As every January sees a number of such incidents, the city’s fire department called for people to exercise caution when preparing and eating the traditional treat.

It recommends that the rice cakes be cut into small pieces and that time be spent chewing before swallowing.

Special attention should be paid when young children and seniors eat the traditional food, the fire department said.

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