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Osaka arson suspect suffering from severe brain damage

Morio Tanimoto, the 61-year-old suspect in a deadly arson attack at a mental health clinic in the city of Osaka earlier this month, suffered severe brain damage in the incident, investigative sources said Monday.

“If he has severe carbon monoxide poisoning, he may not be able to communicate even if he survives,” a medical expert said.

The Osaka Prefectural Police have no plans to question Tanimoto at the moment and it may not be able to file criminal charges against him due to the brain damage, the sources said.

Around 10:20 a.m. on Dec. 17, Tanimoto allegedly started a fire at the clinic located on the fourth floor of a building in the city’s Kita Ward.

The suspect and 26 people were sent to hospital with no vital signs. Of them, 25 were later confirmed dead. Their deaths were attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tanimoto and one victim were resuscitated. The suspect has remained unconscious, however, suffering severe inhalation burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the investigative sources, signs of recovery have been seen in Tanimoto’s internal organs and other body parts but the damage to his brain is serious.

Yutaka Kondo, an associate professor at Juntendo University’s Graduate School of Medicine, noted that carbon monoxide is about 250 times more likely than oxygen to bind with hemoglobin.

“The longer a person inhales carbon monoxide, the more likely the person’s brain will suffer lack of oxygen and severe damage,” Kondo said.

“Even if the person survives, it is highly likely the person will suffer memory loss and difficulties in communicating by conversation,” Kondo added.

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