Fire almost destroys Japanese UNESCO world heritage site

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The firefighters are fighting to quench the fire, since early Thursday. No injuries have been reported, thus far.

"More than anything, I am very anxious about the fact that many Naha citizens live in neighbouring areas, and I have received reports that the fire might be threatening or affecting residents of the areas". Then, in 2000, it was registered as a World Heritage Site.

Video of the scene shows the entire Seiden temple completely engulfed in orange flames.

The wooden castle, with its distinctive red walls and sloped tiled roof, has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times throughout its history.

During the July 2000 summit of the Group of Eight major economies in Okinawa, leaders had dinner in the castle's north hall. The castle complex was built in a style that was heavily influenced by Chinese architecture .

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Whenever I went to Okinawa Prefecture to cover a story, I always visited this legacy of the Ryukyu Kingdom located on higher ground in Naha, the prefectural capital. By the 17 century, it came under the direct influence of the Japanese Shogunate , but the kingdom was abolished by the government of Emperor Meji in the late 19 century.

The castle was nearly completely destroyed during World War Two. The palace was bombed in 1945 by Americans during the Battle of Okinawa. This was because "Shuri Castle acted as the local headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Army" according to CNN.

The complex burned down after it was bombed by USA forces during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The current structure is a reconstruction based on original plans and photos of the old castle. The project was completed in 1992.

"It is a World Heritage site that represents Okinawa".

Local residents could only watch helplessly and in disbelief as that pride of Okinawa and the spiritual home of the people disappeared in flames that lit up the dark night. It is now a very important destination for tourists. The structure fell into disrepair after the fierce battles of the Second World War. "Team Kadena is shocked and saddened by the fire at Shuri Castle, which is the symbol of Okinawa", the email stated.

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