At least 13 people are feared dead and 38 injured in a suspected arson attack at a renowned animation studio in the Japanese city of Kyoto Thursday, fire officials said.
The Kyoto Fire department confirmed that one person has died and 12 people were found with “no vital signs” inside the building, which belonged to the Kyoto Animation Co. In Japan, deaths must be confirmed by a doctor before being officially announced.
Kyoto police said that a man poured what appeared to be gasoline around the studio and set it on fire. The 41-year-old suspect was taken into police custody.
Fire department officials said an additional 38 people were injured, with ten believed to be in a serious condition.
The fire broke out at about 10:30 a.m local time on Thursday (9:30 p.m.ET) and police said a resident reported hearing a sound like an explosion coming from the studio.
About 48 fire engines have been dispatched to the area and are currently trying to get the fire under control.
Footage from the scene shows thick smoke billowing out of the four-story building, which is located in a residential area several kilometers south of Kyoto Station, as firefighters worked to douse the flames.
Founded in 1981, Kyoto Animation — known as KyoAni — is based in southern Kyoto prefecture’s Uji and produces animations and publishes anime novels, comics and books, according to its website. Among the studio’s most famous works are “Free!”, manga series “K-On!”, the anime TV adaptation of “Haruhi Suzumiya” and “Violet Evergarden” which Netflix picked up in 2018.
The company’s philosophy as posted on its website includes keeping a “humanitarian” corporate culture and believes that “promoting the growth of people is equal to creating the brightness of works.”
There was an outpouring of grief on Twitter Thursday with fans of the studio offering their condolences.
This is a developing story.