The 500-year old Shuri castle has been engulfed in a terrible fire since early Thursday morning, that has destroyed most parts of the World Heritage site. The firefighters are fighting to quench the fire, since early Thursday. The fire whose source is still unknown has already destroyed castle's main building along with the north and south structures. No injuries have been reported, thus far. Nearby residents were evacuated to safer areas, the spokesperson of Okinawa Prefecture Police told reporters. The fire was reported by a private security company that recognized the alarm, a fire department official told reporters. The castle is now closed as per the notification on its official website.
"We express deepest apology to the neighbor residents, guests, and persons involved about the fire. Due to the fire, Shurijo Castle Park (including its facilities) is temporally closed since this morning... We are now checking details. We release up-to-date information depending on the status confirmation," said Shurijo Castle Park Management Center in its notification.
Naha mayor Mikiko Shiroma who led the emergency response team, said, "I feel as if we have lost our symbol" and vowed to do everything to protect what remained of the castle. Naha is the capital of Okinawa prefecture. Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the central government would do utmost to reconstruct the castle, AFP reported.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a wooden structure located at Japan's southern island of Okinawa. It was built during the reign of Ryukyu Dynasty that ruled over most of Ryukyu islands, of which Okinawa island was a part, from 1429-1879 A.D. The structure was designated as Japan's National Treasure in 1933. The original Shuri castle was completely destroyed by the US troops in 1945, during World War Two. Many artifacts and documents perished along with the structure. It was rebuilt in 1992. The structure that is engulfed in a massive fire is the rebuilt one. The castle had been scheduled as a stop on the '2020 Tokyo Olympics' torch relay route.