Many dead, dozens hurt in Japan animation firm blaze

Kyoto Animation

Kyoto Animation

Smoke coming from an animation company building after a fire in Kyoto on July 18, 2019.

At least 13 people were killed and dozens injured in a suspected arson attack at an animation studio in Japan's Kyoto city on Thursday, officials said.

About 70 people were in the building when the fire started, fire officials said, with reports also saying 36 were in hospital, some in a critical condition.

An additional 10 more people have been found in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest - meaning they are showing no vital signs - on the third floor of the building and on the stairs that lead to the rooftop, which brings the total confirmed or presumed dead to more than 20.

The blaze started in the three-storey building in Japan's ancient capital after the attacker sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant, police and fire officials said.

The suspect is now in hospital with serious burn injuries and police do not expect to be able to question him on Thursday.

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. Hauntingly, a spokesperson from the fire department reported receiving calls first, outlining an explosion on the first floor, and then later, which pleaded "the fire is rising, help us".

As per Kyodo News, witnesses reported loud bangs coming from the building, others said they saw people coming out blackened, bleeding, walking barefoot.

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Rescue officials have set up a tent outside the building to provide first aid and sort out the injured.

Among Japan's most well-known studios, its most famous works include "Free!", manga series "K-On!", the anime TV adaptation of "Haruhi Suzumiya" and "Violet Evergarden" which Netflix picked up in 2018.

Survivors who saw the suspect told local media that he was not one of their colleagues.

Seven were confirmed dead with severe burns, said fire department official Satoshi Fujiwara.

Witnesses also claimed he did not work at the production studio.

The North American anime distributor Sentai Filmworks have launched a GoFundMe to raise funds with the goal of helping Kyoto Animation during their time of need.

Hideaki Hatta, centre, president of Kyoto Animation speaks to the media.

A fire in 2001 in Tokyo's congested Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people in Japan's worst known case of arson in modern times. Though his motive has not yet been determined, he reportedly shouted "die" as he was setting the fires.

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