Gambling mom charged with babys death - Friday 12th of August 2005

A six-month-old baby died in Japan after her mother left her in a car in the summer heat to play slot games and did not even return during a major earthquake, police said on Thursday.

Police arrested Saori Konno, 27, for allegedly causing her daughters death by leaving her in the car without air conditioning for two and a half hours on Tuesday in the northern city of Ichinoseki.

The mother was half an hour into her game when an earthquake registering 7.2 on the Richter scale hit, but she did not return to the car, a police spokesperson said.

The city felt the quake at an intensity of lower five on the Japanese seismic scale of up to seven, meaning the tremor was big enough to break windows. The quake injured at least 60 people across four prefectures.

The temperature in Ichinoseki hit 30┬░Celsius on Tuesday.

"People may think she should have checked if her baby was alright, at least when the quake struck, but it is not part of the charges against her," the police spokesperson said.

The official said Konno was absorbed in playing pachisuro, a Japanese version of slot machines in which players win medals. Like the popular pinball game pachinko, it is usually played in loud, smoky parlours with gaudy lighting.

Gambling is officially banned in Japan, but pachinko and pachisuro players, many of whom become addicted, generally exchange their token prizes for cash at adjacent outlets.

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