OSAKA, Japan (AP) – Japanese police raided the home of one of the patients of a psychiatric clinic on Saturday where a fire ripped through an entire floor of an eight-story building, killing 24 people.
An Osaka police investigator told The Associated Press that the man is a possible suspect. He is believed to be one of three people who survived Friday’s crash and were in serious medical condition. No one has been arrested by the police and it may take a while for the man to recover sufficiently to be questioned.
According to witnesses interviewed by the local press, a man entered the clinic in central Osaka, carrying a paper bag, which he left on the ground, next to a heater near the reception counter, and kicked him. A liquid spilled, caught fire and the entire floor was filled with flames and smoke.
According to accounts, the victims gasped and struggled to get out of the clinic inside the eight-story building. There was only one way to escape because the elevator and emergency stairs were outside the clinic, authorities said.
Police and firefighters returned to the site on Saturday in the middle of Osaka’s main commercial section, Kitashinchi.
Some experts were surprised by the death toll in a daytime fire that was extinguished in practically an hour. Authorities are investigating why the smoke filled the floor so quickly and the victims were trapped. There were no previous reports of any violation of fire safety codes in the building, authorities said.
There was no emergency exit at the clinic. The office had several compartments for consultations and workshops along a single corridor.