TOKYO (TR) – Fifteen people were rushed to hospitals in the capital after choking on sticky mochi rice cakes on New Year’s Day, with two of the victims later being confirmed dead, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Jan. 1).
According to the Tokyo Fire Department, emergency services transported a man in his 50s to a hospital in a state of cardiac arrest after he choked on such a cake in Ota Ward at around 2:30 p.m. He was later confirmed dead. In Edogawa Ward, a man in his 80s also died after choking on a cake.
Of the 13 other victims, seven were left in serious condition upon arrival at hospitals.
The mochi cakes are typically prepared to celebrate the New Year’s holiday. Given that many citizens wind up blocking their windpipes with the glutinous cakes, the fire department regularly urges citizens to cut the cakes into smaller bite-size pieces and chew thoroughly before swallowing.
According to the department, 90 percent of the victims over the past five years have been over the age of 65.