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ASIAN (E)

11 elders killed as fire and explosions engulf homeless facility in Sapporo

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A total of 11 people were killed by a fire and explosions at a facility for senior homeless people in Sapporo, northern Japan, late Wednesday night, police said.

The victims were among 16 residents of the three-storey facility run by a local organisation that supports homeless people, the police said Thursday.

The police confirmed five survived the fire that broke out at around 11.40pm in a residential area about 1.5km north of Sapporo railway station.

The cause of the fire is not yet known. No staffers are normally stationed at the facility overnight, according to its operator which belongs to the Homeless Support Hokkaido Network, a non-profit organisation.

The operator has been renting the building that was previously used as an inn.

A witness said he saw the facility become engulfed in flames after hearing more than 10 explosions.

In Sapporo in March 2010, a fire killed seven residents of a nursing home for elderly people with dementia.



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