24 dead in Osaka building fire, arson suspected

NHK -- Dec 17
A fire that broke out at a building in western Japan's Osaka City has left 24 people dead. Police investigating the fire suspect that it was caused by arson.

Dozens of firefighters were called to the building in Osaka's Kita Ward. The fire began on the fourth floor of the eight-story building shortly before 10:30 a.m. on Friday. It was brought under control in about 30 minutes.

A medical clinic specializing in psychosomatic medicine and psychiatry is located on the fourth floor of the multipurpose building. An area measuring about 20 square meters was burned.

Police sources say a man believed to be in his 50s or 60s was seen by a witness holding a paper bag with liquid leaking from it. The witness said the fire started in an area where some of the liquid had fallen on the floor.

Police suspect the fire was started deliberately. They are investigating whether the man is among the injured.

The building is close to JR Kitashinchi Station in the downtown area of Osaka City.

The local fire department received a report around 10:20 a.m. that a fire had started on the fourth floor of the eight-story multitenant building located near JR Osaka Station. A total of 28 people were injured including the 27 showing no vital signs.

The fire was nearly extinguished by around 10:45 a.m. after burning across an area of about 20 square meters, the fire department said.

The fire apparently started in a medical clinic on the fourth floor. The website of the clinic says it provides psychosomatic and psychiatric treatments.

Investigative sources said there is a report that a "man lit fire" in the building in Kita Ward. From the fourth floor of the building, 17 men and 10 women, all showing no signs of life, were brought out, according to firefighters.

The police were also informed that fire had been started from liquid dispersed from a paper bag held by a man who appeared to be in his 60s, according to the sources.

大阪・北新地で24人が死亡したビル火災で現場にいた不審な男が重篤な状態で病院に搬送されたことが分かりました。