Twenty-seven people are feared dead after a fire broke out in a building in Osaka in western Japan, fire department officials said.
he fire started on the fourth floor of an eight-storey building in the shopping and entertainment area of Kitashinchi, Osaka city fire department official Akira Kishimoto said.
Mr Kishimoto added 28 people were affected, 27 of whom were found in a state of cardiac arrest. So far 23 people have been taken to nearby hospitals.
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.
Mr Kishimoto said people on other floors of the building were believed to have been evacuated.
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, 70 fire engines were mobilised to fight the fire, which was mostly extinguished within about 30 minutes of an emergency call, officials said.