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Friday 23 August 2019

23 feared dead after arson at Japanese animation studio

Officials said 36 others have been injured, some of them critically.

(AP/PA)
(AP/PA)

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

A man screaming “you die!” has burst into an animation production studio in Japan and set it on fire.

killing 13 people and leaving more than 10 others presumed dead.

The blaze in Kyoto killed 13 people, left more than 10 others presumed dead and injured another 36. Most were workers at Kyoto Animation, known for mega-hit stories featuring high school girls.

The fire started in the three-storey building in Japan’s ancient capital after the suspect sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant.

Thirteen were confirmed dead on the first and second floors. On the third floor, more than 10 people were found unresponsive. Some of them were found on the stairs, where they apparently collapsed while gasping for air and trying to go out to the roof. Firefighters are still searching inside the building.

The suspect was injured and taken to a hospital. Police are investigating the man on suspicion of arson.

Survivors who saw the attacker said he was not their colleague and that he was screaming “(you) die!” when he dumped the liquid and started the fire, according to Japanese media reports. They said some of the survivors got splashed with the liquid.

Footage on Japan’s NHK television showed grey smoke billowing from the charred building. Other footage showed windows blown off.

Witnesses in the neighbourhood said they heard bangs coming from the building, others said they saw people coming out blackened, bleeding and walking barefoot, Kyodo News reported.

Rescue officials set up an orange tent outside the studio building to provide first aid and sort out the injured.

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Smoke billows from the building (Kyodo News/AP)

Fire department officials said more than 70 people were in the building at the time of the fire and many of them ran outside.

Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio, and its hits include Lucky Star, K-On! and Haruhi Suzumiya.

With at least 23 killed or presumed dead, the fire was the worst mass killing in Japan since a man stabbed and killed 19 people at an assisted living facility in western Tokyo in 2016.

A fire in 2001 in Tokyo’s congested Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people in its worst known case of arson in modern times. Police never announced an arrest for setting the blaze, though five people were convicted of negligence. In 2008, 16 people died in a blaze at a movie theatre in Osaka, near Kyoto.

PA Media

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