Osaka, Japan – An arson attack in Osaka killed 24 people in an 8 story building, late in the morning, on Friday, Dec 17.

People who witnessed the incident called it the deadliest in Japan in almost two decades.

Today, around 10:30 at local time, a fire broke out on the 4th floor of an 8 story building. However, it was put out within 30 minutes, reported NHK, a national broadcaster.

27 people were rescued from the scene and were immediately taken to the hospital. The hospital reported 24 deaths out of 27 admitted there by the evening. Three of them were in critical condition, however, it is yet to confirm whether they are alive or not.

Allegedly, the fire set out on the 4th floor in a psychiatric care clinic. It is not yet confirmed who set the fire but police officials suspect a man in his late 50s standing at the clinic’s reception holding a bag with fluid leaking from it, reported a Japanese news source, Mainichi Shimbun. 

The woman, who witnessed the liquid leakage from the bag, said that she saw, “strong flames burst out of the paper bag as a man put it down.”

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Another source confirmed her statement saying, “fluid was coming out of the paper bag.”

The police further investigated the case and determined if the suspect was injured in the incident.

Japanese media reported that the 24 people who died were apparently gathered for a weekly program to assist those struggling with mental health, reported Japanese media. The victims comprise 17 males and 10 females, aged 20s to 60s. All of the victims were found unconscious lying on the 4th floor of the building.

The area of incident covers 215 square feet of land, told the fire department.

Right after the incident was reported, the fire department sent 75 trucks to put out the blaze and continued their operation till 12:30 noon.

The current arson attack in Osaka is the deadliest after the 2001 inferno that happened in Shinjuku and killed 44.

In 2019, another arson attack was initiated on a Kyoto Animation Studio’s building residing in the West of Japan that injured 34 and killed 36.