13 feared dead after arson at animation studio in Japan

A MAN screaming ‘You die!’ has burst into an animation production studio in Japan and set it on fire.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 9:37 am
Updated Thursday, 18th July 2019, 9:46 am

One person has been killed and 12 more are feared dead and a dozen possibly trapped inside.

The blaze in Kyoto injured another 36 people, some of them critically, Japanese authorities said.

The fire broke out in the three-storey Kyoto Animation building in Japan's ancient capital, after the suspect sprayed an unidentified liquid to accelerate the flames, police and fire officials said.

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Smoke billows from a three-story building of Kyoto Animation in a fire in Kyoto, western Japan, Thursday, July 18, 2019. Kyoto prefectural police said the fire broke out Thursday morning after a man burst into it and spread unidentified liquid and put fire. Picture: Kyodo News via AP

One person died of severe burns, said fire department official Satoshi Fujiwara. Most of the 10 seriously injured had burns.

Rescuers found 12 people presumed dead on the first and second floors, he added, and as many as 18 others could be still trapped on the third floor.

The suspect was also injured and taken to hospital, officials said. Police are investigating him on suspicion of arson.

Survivors who saw the attacker said he was not a colleague and that he was screaming ‘You die!’ when he dumped the liquid and started the fire, according to Japanese media reports.

Firefighters work as smoke billows from a three-story building of Kyoto Animation in a fire in Kyoto, western Japan, Thursday, July 18, 2019. Kyoto prefectural police said the fire broke out Thursday morning after a man burst into it and spread unidentified liquid and put fire. Picture: Kyodo News via AP

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

‘There was an explosion, then I heard people shouting, some asking for help,’ a woman told TBS TV. ‘Black smoke was rising from windows on upper floors, then there was a man struggling to crawl out of the window.’

Witnesses in the neighbourhood said they heard bangs coming from the building, and 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.

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 is known for mega-hit stories featuring high school girls, including Lucky Star, K-On! and Haruhi Suzumiya.