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Fire destroys most of Japan’s Shuri Castle, a world heritage site in Okinawa

Tokyo: A fire broke out at Shuri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, early on Thursday, completely destroying the main hall and other structures.

Firefighters were still battling the blaze a few hours after the fire started, and nearby residents were evacuated to safer areas, Okinawa police spokesman Ryo Kochi said.

The fire in Naha, the capital of Okinawa prefecture, started from the castle’s main structure. The main Seiden temple and a Hokuden structure, or north temple, have burnt down. A third structure Nanden, or south temple, is nearly destroyed, Kochi said.

A popular tourist attraction, Shuri was built more than 500 years ago as the royal castle of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

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