KYOTO (TR) – Thirty-three people are confirmed dead and dozens others injured following a suspected arson attack at Kyoto Animation Co. in Kyoto City on Thursday, authorities said, reports Jiji Press (July 19).
The blaze broke out in Studio 1 of Kyoto Animation in Fushimi Ward at around 10:30 a.m., when about 70 people were inside the three-story structure.
According to the authorities, two bodies were later found on the first floor and another 11 on the second. Another victim was discovered in a stairwell leading from the first to second floors. The remaining 19 bodies were found on a stairwell leading to the roof, whose door was closed.
Another 35 persons are receiving medical attention in hospitals, the authorities said.
After receiving a distress call, the Kyoto City Fire Department dispatched about 30 trucks to the scene to battle the blaze, which spread over the roughly 700 square meters of space in the reinforced concrete structure.
“They ripped me off!”
A witness told police that they saw an adult male spraying around a liquid that seemed to be gasoline inside the building and setting it ablaze. “Die!” he reportedly screamed as he carried out the act.
Outside the building, police apprehended a 41-year-old man, who had suffered burns to various parts of his body. As police officers apprehended him, he yelled, according to one female witness speaking to the Asahi Shimbun, “They ripped me off!”
The man is currently receiving medical attention. Police plan to question him once he recovers.
Multiple knives and at least one hammer were found dropped at the scene, but it is not known if they belong to the man in custody, police said previously.
“People will die”
Public broadcaster NHK reported that a male customer at a gasoline station purchased 40 liters of gasoline at a gas station located about 500 meters from the studio around 30 minutes before the incident. Police are investigating whether the customer is the man in custody.
Kyoto Animation president Hideaki Hatta told the public broadcaster later on Thursday that the company received several threatening emails that said “people will die” in the past. The president said that the company contacted a lawyer after receiving each one.
Established in 1981, Kyoto Animation is known for producing a number of television series, including “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and “K-On!”