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Doctor who stayed in Fukushima after meltdowns thought to have died in fire

HIRONO, Fukushima -- A doctor who chose to stay in an area affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis and continued to provide medical services may have died in a fire at his home here, police said.

    At around 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 30, a fire broke out at the home of Hideo Takano, 81, director of Takano Hospital in Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture. Part of the wooden structure was destroyed in the blaze, local police said.

    The body of a man was found in one of the rooms. Investigators believe the corpse is that of Takano, whom they have been unable to contact, and are trying to confirm the identity of the body.

    A security guard at the hospital, located on the same grounds as Takano's home, noticed smoke coming out of the home and alerted a local fire station. Takano had lived alone at the address.

    A hospital official told the Mainichi Shimbun that until recently, Takano had treated patients as usual.

    Takano Hospital is situated about 22 kilometers south of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Takano chose to stay home and continued to treat inpatients at his hospital even after the town of Hirono was designated as a zone in which residents were urged to prepare for evacuation following the outbreak of the nuclear disaster. He also examined local residents and those engaged in the decommissioning of the nuclear plant.

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