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Japanese police look into arson after 24 people died in mental health clinic blaze in Osaka

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By Euronews  with AP
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Japanese police look into arson after 24 people died in mental health clinic blaze in Osaka
Copyright  Chisato Tanaka/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Flowers mark the scene of what Japanese police are suspecting was an arson attack in the city of Osaka that has killed 24 people.

On Friday, a fire engulfed an entire floor of a mental health clinic, located in the heart of the country's third-largest city.

One woman was rescued by firefighters and is being treated in a hospital. Three other people had to be resuscitated and remain in serious condition.

Prior to the fire, witnesses claim to have seen a man in his 50s to 60s come into the hospital carrying a bag filled with an unidentified liquid and then spilling it next to a heater.

On Saturday, police searched the house of one of the patients, who was being looked into as a possible suspect, Osaka police investigator told AP. 

A small fire broke out about half an hour before the building fire at the man's house, where a patient registration card was found, the investigator said.

He is believed to be among the three people who survived and were in severe condition. Police have not arrested anyone, and it may take a while until the man recovers enough to be interrogated.

The authorities have not ruled out the possibility that the man may be one of the 24 people who died in the fire. 

A witness described the incident saying he arrived after the blaze was contained. 

"I thought a small fire broke out but then there was an unusual number of ambulances and fire trucks. The traffic lights were turned off too. I was really surprised for a moment," the unnamed witness said.