Two sisters, aged 5 and 3, died in a house fire in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward on Tuesday night, police said Wednesday.
Police said the occupants of the house were Kohachi Harada, 22, his 21-year-old wife, and their two daughters, Shion, 5, and Rui, 3.
According to police, firefighters received a call reporting smoke coming out of a 3rd-floor window of a house just after 6 p.m. A local resident said Mrs Harada returned home by car from shopping and panicked at seeing the smoke, yelling that her children were inside, TV Asahi reported.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze about an hour later, police said. The 10-square-meter room on the third floor, where the two girls were, was destroyed. Firefighters found the bodies of the two girls and they were taken to hospital where they were pronounced dead, TV Asahi reported.
Police said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but investigators said on Wednesday afternoon that the fire most likely started at the kotatsu and that a cigarette lighter belonging to the mother was nearby on the floor. They also suggested that she may have left a lit cigarette near the kotatsu when she went out.
According to TV media reports, Mrs Harada said she had gone shopping for a short time but as she was on her way home, she forgot an item, and went back. She said she was away from home 40 minutes longer than she planned to be. Her husband was still at work.© Japan Today