27 feared dead in building blaze in Japan's Osaka
Twenty-seven people were feared dead after a fire broke out in a building in Osaka in western Japan, fire department officials said Friday, and police were investigating arson as a possible cause.
The fire started on the fourth floor of an eight-story building in the shopping and entertainment area of Kitashinchi, Osaka city fire department official Akira Kishimoto said.
Twenty-eight people were affected, twenty-seven of whom were found in a state of cardiac arrest, Kishimoto said. So far twenty-three people have been taken to nearby hospitals, he said.
The building houses an internal medicine clinic, an English language school and other businesses, NHK national television said.
The cause of the fire and other details were not immediately known. Osaka police said they were investigating to determine whether the fire was caused by arson or an accident.
People on other floors of the building were believed to have been evacuated, Kishimoto said.
NHK footage showed dozens of fire engines and police vehicles on the street near the building, with onlookers watching the development from across the street.
NHK quoted a witness saying she heard a woman's voice coming from the fourth floor asking for help. Another witness told TV Asahi he saw orange flames and grey smoke coming out of windows on the fourth floor of the building when he stepped outside after hearing a commotion.
In all, seventy fire engines were mobilized to fight the fire, which was mostly extinguished within about 30 minutes of an emergency call, officials said.