Crime & Justice

Japan clinic fire death toll climbs to 25

Tokyo, Dec 21 (EFE).- Deaths caused by a recent fire in Osaka in western Japan climbed to 25 early Tuesday after a young woman in critical condition died.

Police identified 61-year-old Morio Tanimoto as the suspect behind the fire at the mental health clinic located in a central neighborhood of the city.

Another person among the 27 who were transferred to several hospitals after the incident remains critical.

The police are continuing their investigation into the event, one of the deadliest recent fires in the country.

Police believe that Tanimoto, a patient at the clinic, may have intended to copy a deadly arson attack on an animation studio in Kyoto in 2019, in which 36 people died, according to details of the investigation, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported Tuesday.

During that incident on July 18, 2019, the suspect had allegedly splashed gasoline around the three-storey building, before setting it alight.

Investigators found a newspaper article about the animation studio fire in the house where Tanimoto lived.

Tanimoto also purchased around 10 liters of gasoline in late November saying that it was for his motorcycle. He showed identification required to buy gasoline by the container.

According to the information leaked so far, there was a small fire in Tanimoto’s home half an hour before the fire at the clinic on Friday so the police suspect that he may have tried to ignite some gasoline before the planned attack.

The police also believe that Tanimoto tried to seal the clinic’s emergency exit the day before the fire to prevent people from escaping.

This assumption is based on statements that the clinic’s director, Kotaro Nishizawa, 49, made to his wife on the eve of the fire.

He told her that he had found duct tape on the fire escape door and removed it.

Nishizawa is among the 25 people killed in the incident.

Security camera footage shows that the fire broke out between one and two minutes after Tanimoto’s arrival.

The footage shows Tanimoto placing a paper bag in front of the reception area and the flames rising rapidly to the ceiling after he bent over the bag.

Investigators found a burned cigarette lighter at the site where the fire is believed to have started. EFE


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