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Firefighters are working to extinguish a fire at an animation studio in Kyoto.
Firefighters are working to extinguish a fire at an animation studio in Kyoto.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

24 people killed in suspected arson attack at Japanese animation studio

Dozens of other people have been injured in the fire at the studio in the city of Kyoto.
Jul 18th 2019, 7:58 AM 15,248 20

Updated Jul 18th 2019, 10:17 AM

TWENTY FOUR PEOPLE have been killed and dozens more have been injured in a suspected arson attack on an animation production company in the Japanese city of Kyoto. 

The fire studio belonging to Kyoto Animation appeared to have been started deliberately but there was no immediate information on a possible motive, according to police.

The toll continued to climb hours after the fire began, with fire department officials saying bodies were being discovered as they searched the ravaged building.

A fire department official told AFP that at least 11 more people had been found “in cardio-respiratory arrest”. This is a term used in Japan to signify a victim’s death before it is officially certified.

The discoveries, on the building’s second floor and a stairwell leading to the roof, raised the toll to at least 24 dead.

35 people had also been injured in the fire, 10 of whom were in serious condition, according to officials.

Local media reported that around 70 people were believed to have been in the building when the fire started.

‘Drop dead’

The fire department began receiving calls around 10.35am (1.35am Irish time) about the fire at the studio.

“Callers reported having heard a loud explosion from the first floor of Kyoto Animation and seeing smoke,” a fire department spokesman said.

Police said they were still investigating the cause of the fire but it was a suspected arson attack.

“A man threw a liquid and set fire to it,” a Kyoto prefectural police spokesman told AFP.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that a man had been detained in connection with the fire and was later taken to hospital for treatment.

It reported that the suspect had poured a gasoline-like substance around the building and said “drop dead” as he set fire to it.

There was no immediate statement from the studio in relation to the fire.

“We are in the process of learning what happened,” said a woman who answered the phone at the firm’s headquarters in Uji City in the Kyoto region. 

“We cannot tell you anything more,” she added.

Arson is considered a serious crime and people convicted of deliberately setting fires in a country where many people still live in wooden houses can face the death penalty.

A man convicted of setting a fire that killed 16 people in Osaka in 2008 is currently on death row.

Includes reporting by - © AFP 2019

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