Freak blaze at Tokyo arts festival kills 5-year-old boy

People look at a burning wooden jungle gym displayed at a Tokyo art festival on Nov 6, 2016.
People look at a burning wooden jungle gym displayed at a Tokyo art festival on Nov 6, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - A five-year-old Japanese boy was burnt to death after a wooden jungle gym display created for a Tokyo arts festival suddenly caught fire, reports and officials said on Monday (Nov 7).

The freak conflagration on Sunday (Nov 6), caused flames to shoot metres into the evening sky, reports quoted witnesses in the Japanese capital as saying.

A man believed to be the boy's father screamed for help, tearfully shouting, "My child is inside!", according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and other dailies.

But Kento Saeki was confirmed dead at hospital, police said, without giving an official cause of death.

Newspapers reported that he is believed to have suffered fatal burns. An unconfirmed number of other children reportedly managed to escape.

The structure, built by university students, was one of the displays at Tokyo Design Week, to which many families flocked at the weekend.

The cause of the fire has yet to be officially determined, police and fire officials said.

But Jiji Press quoted an investigation source as saying that a broken incandescent lamp was found at the site, which could have ignited sawdust on the jungle gym's frame.

The dead boy's father and another man who joined in the frantic rescue suffered burns, reports said, though they were not life-threatening.

The organiser of the event and the university apologised for the loss of life while netizens expressed sympathy.

"It is painful just to think about the feelings of the father who couldn't rescue his own son who was on fire," read a tweet.