Fire at Japanese welfare residence leaves 11 people dead

Five people were rescued from the building in the northern city of Sapporo

Fire at Japanese welfare residence leaves 11 people dead

Firefighters work at the scene of a fire in Sapporo, northern Japan. Picture by: Yuya Shino/AP/Press Association Images

A fire at a care home for older people with financial difficulties has killed 11 people in Japan.

The former three-storey inn, in the northern city of Sapporo, was engulfed in flames after the fire broke out on Wednesday night.

Footage showed flames and smoke pouring from the building, which was not fitted with sprinklers. The building was not required to have them under Japanese law.

Witnesses described a "huge" blaze, with one telling reporters it was possible to feel the heat even from a large distance away.

The cause of the fire is not currently known but an investigation is under way.

Five people were rescued from the building, and three are still being treated in hospital.

The dead have been identified as eight men and three women. All 16 residents of the facility have been accounted for.

They paid a monthly rent of around 36,000 yen (€265) to stay in the accommodation, which also provided them with help finding jobs and food.

According to local media, the home is usually unstaffed overnight.