At Least 33 Killed in Japanese Studio Arson

Public broadcaster NHK said the suspect had been taken to hospital after suffering injuries in the fire

"TOKYO (AP) â€" A man screaming "You die!" burst into an animation production studio in Kyoto, Japan, and set it on fire Thursday, authorities said, leaving almost 30 people confirmed or presumed dead, shocking anime fans in and outside Japan.

The fire broke out in the three-story building in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto, after a suspect sprayed an unidentified liquid to accelerate the blaze, Kyoto prefectural police and fire department officials said.

A store selling such items is near the studio damaged by Thursday's fire in which authorities say 33 people were killed.

"Fire department workers have been trying to rescue them from the building", Miyata said.

As the fire gutted the building, it sent thick white smoke out through the windows, and the flames charred the facade black before firefighters were eventually able to tame it hours after it began.

Kyoto fire department official Satoshi Fujiwara said 36 others have been injured, some of them critically.

Kyoto Animation, known for short as "KyoAni" in Japan, has animation studios in Kyoto and nearby Uji, where it is headquartered.

Firefighters at the Kyoto Animation building in Kyoto.

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Kyoto Animation was established in 1981 by former Mushi Pro staff members.

The studio has an outsized role in Japan's animation industry that outstrips the list of works it has produced, said Tokyo-based film commentator Yuichi Maeda.

Police earlier told public broadcaster NHK that several people had died in the fire but could not specify the number. Anime UK News extends our sincerest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones, and Kyoto Animation.

Local media reported the suspect was seen screaming "Die!" as he set the building alight and then tried to escape but ended up collapsing on the street outside where he was caught by a studio employee.

Violent crime is relatively rare in Japan, but occasional incidents have shocked the country.

Less than two months ago, a knife-wielding man slashed at a group of schoolgirls at a bus stop in Kawasaki, a city just south of Tokyo, killing one girl and the father of another, while injuring more than a dozen children.

Police said the fierce blaze appeared to have been started deliberately but there was no immediate information on a possible motive. "Die!" he reportedly screamed as he carried out the act.

An official said one person had been found on the second floor of the three-storey Kyoto Animation building 'in cardio-respiratory arrest, ' a term used in Japan to signify a victim's death before it is officially certified.

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