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At least 27 people feared dead in fire in Osaka, Japan

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TOKYO: At least 27 people are feared dead after a fire on Friday (Dec 17) in a busy shopping district in the Japanese city of Osaka.

Police were investigating the fire in a building for suspected arson, Kyodo News reported, citing investigative sources.

The fire was mostly extinguished within 30 minutes of being reported, media said.

TV footage showed dozens of firefighters working inside and outside the eight-storey building after the blaze was extinguished.

The charred interior of the fourth floor of the narrow office building was visible through broken and blackened windows.

The floor housed a clinic that provided mental health services and general medical care, local media reported.

An Osaka fire department official told AFP no signs of life could be detected in 27 of the 28 people injured in the blaze, with the victims being taken to hospital.

“The fire was detected at 10.18 am at the fourth floor,” they said. “As of noon, 70 fire engines are at the scene.”

A middle-aged woman who witnessed the fire told public broadcaster NHK: “There was lots of a dark smoke … there was a very strong smell, too.”

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