Who set Fire in a Mental Hospital in Japan? 24 Die in the Suspected Arson Attack

A fire broke out in a mental health clinic in Osaka on Friday leaving at least 24 people dead.

A deadly fire broke out at a mental health clinic in Japan's Osaka city on Friday, December 17. According to Free Press Journal, at least 24 people are reported to have died in the horrible incident. The clinic was situated in a commercial building in Osaka. Local police have reason to believe that it is a possible arson case. According to reports, a suspect deliberately spilled inflammable liquid, which ignited the fire.

According to public broadcaster NHK, the fire is said to have started sometime around mid-morning on Friday and went on for about half-hour on the fourth floor of the clinic. The fire charred the interior of the clinic which was visible from the burnt window frames. An Osaka Fire Department informed that 27 people are feared to be dead. However, the number of casualties was not confirmed.

A suspect, who appeared to be in his 50s or 60s was seen entering the building with a bag filled with liquid. Kyodo News reported that the suspect allegedly set the bag filled with liquid near a heater in the reception area and knocked it over. As a result, the liquid spilled prompting the fire. Other media reports noted that the man was said to be a patient of the clinic.

Fire at Japan hospital
Fire at Japan hospital Screen grab - AFP via Free Press Journal

The suspect was a patient at the hospital

The suspect, who is believed to have set the fire was taken to hospital in a critical condition, according to NHK. Reuters reported that a doctor from the nearby hospital noted that most of the people who died in the fire were medical workers or patients. The fire was mostly extinguished within 30 minutes. Footage from the scene showed big fumes of black smoke pouring out from the windows of the building's fourth floor.

The building houses a salon, a clothing shop, and a school

The building in question is located in a shopping and entertainment district in Osaka and houses a beauty salon, a clothing shop, and an English-language school, according to NHK. Yomiuri newspaper reported that the father of a doctor who worked in the clinic was not able to establish contact with him after the fire. "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," he said.

According to Reuters, the clinic treated patients for mental health issues like depression and panic to sleep apnoea and anemia, as well as counseling to help people return to the workforce.

An investigative team has been set up to probe into the incident, NHK reported. The identity of the suspect or the motive behind setting the building on fire was not clear at the moment. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offered condolences on the incident and assured that authorities are working hard to determine a cause for the same.