December 18 2021
From Kyodo News
OSAKA – Twenty-four people were confirmed dead Friday after a fire raced through a psychiatric clinic in an eight-story multiple tenant building in a bustling area of Osaka, with murder and arson suspected, police said.
The fire department in the biggest city in western Japan said a total of 28 people were injured, adding it received a report at 10:18 a.m. that a fire had started on the fourth floor of the building, which had no fire sprinklers.
The police said a man, believed to be in his 50s or 60s, who visited the clinic on that floor was responsible for the blaze, adding he was one of the 28 taken to hospital. It remained unclear if the man was among the dead.
Based on information provided by witnesses, the police said the man placed a paper bag containing a liquid near a heater in the clinic’s reception area. They said he then kicked the bag, igniting the fire when the liquid flowed out.
The fire department said 17 men and 10 women, who were rescued from the floor, were showing no signs of life. Of the 27, 14 men and 10 women believed to be aged in their 20s to 60s were later pronounced dead, according to the police, who were trying to confirm their identities.
The blaze, with flames and smoke billowing out of shattered windows, was nearly extinguished by around 10:45 a.m. after burning an area of around 25 square meters, a third of the clinic’s floor space. The website of the clinic located near JR Osaka Station says it provides psychosomatic and psychiatric treatments.