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Fire razes building in Japan

A fire that broke out in a building in Osaka, Japan, on Friday morning, has killed more than 20 people, government officials said, while the police say they were investigating arson as a possible cause.

The fire reportedly started on the fourth floor of an eight-story building in the major business, shopping and entertainment area of Kitashinchi, Osaka, a fire department official, Akira Kishimoto, told newsmen.

The building houses an internal medicine clinic, an English language school and other businesses and many of the victims are believed to be visitors at the clinic on the fourth floor, fire department officials said.

The cause of the fire and other details were not immediately known but media reports said police were searching for a man who witnesses saw carrying a paper bag from which an unidentified liquid was dripping.

Kishimoto said 27 people were found in a state of cardiac arrest and one other woman was injured.

“The woman was conscious and brought down by an aerial ladder from a window on the sixth floor and was being treated in a hospital,” he said.

“19 people were pronounced dead and three others were resuscitated at the scene,” Kishimoto added.

A doctor at one of the hospitals treating the victims said he believed many of them died after inhaling carbon monoxide as they had limited external injuries.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said “many people have died or being in a state of heart and lung failures,” without disclosing the exact number.