TOKYO (TR) – Eleven people were rushed to hospitals in the capital after choking on sticky mochi rice cakes on New Year’s Day, with one of the victims later being confirmed dead, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Jan. 1).
According to the Tokyo Fire Department, the victims are men and women aged between 27 and 98.
At around 10:10 a.m., emergency services transported a man in his 80s to a hospital in a state of cardiac arrest after he choked on such a cake at his residence in Akishima City. He was later confirmed dead.
Of the 10 other victims, five 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.
In recent years, 90 percent of the victims have been over the age of 65, according to the department.