At least 27 feared dead after fire at building in Japan's Osaka

At least 27 people are feared to have died in a fire at a building in western Japan on Friday.

Police are investigating the blaze in Osaka as suspected arson, with reports suggesting an unidentified man deliberately started it in a psychiatry clinic on the fourth floor.

The city’s fire department said 27 people were found in cardiopulmonary arrest, a term used in Japan before a death is officially confirmed.

The fire broke out shortly after the clinic opened for business at 10am local time (1am GMT) and it was largely extinguished within 30 minutes, NHK reported.

Footage shot by the broadcaster showed smoke billowing out of the fourth floor windows, where the clinic was located, as well as the roof of the multi-storey office building.

Photos of the aftermath showed the windows blackened and charred.

A 36-year-old woman who works at a nearby business told Kyodo: ‘When I looked outside I saw orange flames in the fourth-floor window of the building. A woman was waving her hands for help from the sixth floor window.’

Located in a shopping and entertainment district not far from Osaka’s main train station, the building also houses a beauty salon, a clothes shop and an English-language school, NHK said.

The father of a doctor who ran the clinic was not able to reach his son by mobile phone, he told the Yomiuri newspaper, adding: ‘Around noon I heard there was news of a fire on television and was surprised.

‘My wife went to the site but we still don’t know what’s going on. I can’t get through to my son’s phone.’

The clinic’s webpage was not accessible but an internet archive from earlier this year showed it treated patients for depression and panic problems, as well as physical issues such as sleep apnea and anemia.

Another woman who said she saw smoke coming from the window told Kyodo that power briefly went out in the surrounding area.

An arson attack at an animation studio in the city of Kyoto in 2019 killed more than 30 people and injured dozens.

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