• Kyodo, Jiji


Four building maintenance workers were killed Thursday in a basement parking garage in Tokyo as a fire suppression system was unintentionally activated, trapping them in an enclosed space with high levels of carbon dioxide, police and firefighters said.

A total of six men were replacing ceiling linings in the parking garage of a condominium building in Shinjuku Ward when the fire suppression system caused shutters to close and began discharging CO2 as a fire extinguishing agent, the police said.

The four men ranged in age from their 30s to their 50s, the authorities said, adding that one worker in his 20s is in a critical condition and receiving treatment at a hospital.

Rescue workers measured the CO2 density in the parking garage as about 20%, several hundred times higher than the normal level, the Tokyo Fire Department said.

After the accident, which took place shortly after 5 p.m., one of the six workers managed to exit the parking garage and sought help from a person in charge of the maintenance work.

According to fire department authorities, when a fire suppression system of this type activates, there is a warning message urging evacuation and CO2 is released after a certain period of time.

The condominium, located in the Shimo-Ochiai district in Shinjuku, is about 400 meters northeast of Shimo-Ochiai Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line of Seibu Railway Co.

In January, two maintenance workers died in the underground parking lot of a building in Tokyo’s Minato Ward apparently due to a malfunction of a fire extinguishing device using CO2.

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