Seven residents of a private nursing home for the elderly were killed in a pre-dawn fire in northern Japan on Saturday, police said.
The seven, four women and three men aged in their 60s to their 80s, died when the blaze swept through the two-storey wooden house in Sapporo, the main city on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, a police spokesman said.
A female night-duty staffer and another resident were injured and taken to hospital for treatment, the spokesman for the Sapporo North police station said. "They are not in a life-threatening situation."
The city's fire department said it had received a call from the 24-year-old staffer, who was the only worker on duty at the home, at about 2:30 am.
"She said that a fire had broken out from a stove in a lounge on the ground floor. But we have yet to determine the cause of the fire," Sapporo fire department spokesman Takashi Shida said.
The house was originally built for private use but was converted into a nursing home in 2005, he said, adding that all residents were believed to suffer from dementia.
It housed nine residents but one of them was away at the time of the blaze.