A fire swept through a psychiatric clinic in the Japanese city of Osaka, killing 27 and police investigating a possible arson after media reported a man spilled liquid that fueled the blaze.
The fire broke out on the fourth floor of an office building in a busy western part of the city on Friday, state broadcaster NHK reported.
“Most of the people who lost their lives could be medical workers or clinic patients. It’s unbearable,” Yumiko Inoue, a doctor at a nearby hospital, told Reuters as she looked out the windows. charred building across the street. .
A man who appeared to be in his 50s or 60s was seen carrying a bag full of liquid into the building, where he dropped it near a radiator and knocked it over, spilling the liquid and igniting the fire, reported Kyodo News.
Other media said the man was believed to be a patient at the clinic and was carrying a bag leaking liquid to the reception area before the fire started.
Twenty-four people have been confirmed dead, NHK said. An Osaka city fire official earlier told Reuters that 27 people had suffered cardiopulmonary arrest, the term used in Japan before a death was officially confirmed.
The blaze was largely extinguished within 30 minutes, according to NHK, after engulfing a narrow 20-square-meter room in the clinic. Images showed smoke billowing from the windows on the fourth floor and from the roof of the building.
Located in a shopping and entertainment district not far from Osaka Main Station, the building is also home to a beauty salon, clothing store and English language school, NHK said.
“When I looked outside I saw orange flames in the window on the fourth floor of the building. A woman was waving her hands for help from the window on the sixth floor,” Kyodo told Kyodo. 36-year-old woman who works in a nearby office. .
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offered his condolences and said authorities were working to determine the cause.
The father of a doctor who ran the clinic could not reach him by cell phone, he told the Yomiuri newspaper.
“Around noon I heard there was news of a fire on TV and was surprised. My wife went to the site but we still don’t know what’s going on. can’t reach my son’s phone, ”he said.
The clinic’s website was not accessible, but an internet archive from the start of the year showed it was treating patients for conditions ranging from depression and panic to sleep apnea and anemia.
An arson attack at an animation studio in Kyoto city in 2019 left more than 30 dead and dozens injured.