TOKYO • Dozens of Tokyo firefighters were battling a blaze yesterday at the world's largest fish market and one of the capital's most popular tourist sites, as grey smoke billowed over the city.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or people trapped, reports said.
Tsukiji draws tens of thousands of visitors a year to its stalls laden with exotic species of fish, huge tuna and fresh sushi, part of a tourism boom that is a key part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic plan.
The fire broke out in the afternoon, and some 44 fire trucks were on the scene. But efforts to contain the flames were hampered by the narrow streets and tightly packed buildings. The cause was not immediately known. The fire was in the "outer" market, an area packed with informal restaurants where tourists can tuck into fresh seafood. The flames spread to five buildings covering some 300 sq m later in the evening, media said.
"I hope the area will be able to quickly recover to what it was before," said Mr Kiyoshi Kimura, president of a company that operates the sushi chain Sushi Zanmai.
The Tsukiji "inner" market, where most seafood wholesalers are located and tuna auctions are carried out at dawn, was not affected.
In June, Tokyo's governor announced a long-delayed plan to move Tsukiji from its current site to a man-made island with contaminated soil. The outer market is not scheduled to move.
More than 1,600 tonnes of seafood worth some 1.6 billion yen (S$19.7 million) pass through the market every day. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the 80-year-old market's age and vulnerability to a big earthquake meant it had to be rebuilt. But she did not say when the main market would move to Toyosu, a former gas plant.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE