Eleven people were killed in northern Japan after fire broke out at a home for elderly people with financial difficulties, police said on Thursday.
Television footage showed the three-storey building engulfed in flames and dozens of firefighters battling the blaze in snowy conditions.
Pictures of the aftermath showed the blackened husk of the building, whose roof had apparently collapsed due to the fire.
The victims — eight men and three women — were among 16 residents of the facility in Sapporo, Hokkaido, run by a local organisation.
The other five residents escaped, a police spokesman told newsmen, adding that authorities were investigating the victims’ identities.
Kenji Kikai, a local police official, said: “Of the five people who escaped, three people — two men and one woman — were rushed to hospital. The two men were slightly injured and the woman sustained moderate injuries.
“They are still hospitalised but the injuries are not life-threatening,” added Kikai.
Two others escaped unharmed.