Fire at Kyoto Animation

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At least 33 people died and dozens were injured after a man set fire to an animation studio in the Japanese city of Kyoto, officials say.


Police said the 41-year-old suspect broke into the Kyoto Animation studio on Thursday morning and sprayed petrol before igniting it. He has been detained and was taken to hospital with injuries.


The fire broke out at the three-storey building at about 10:30 local time (01:35 GMT) on Thursday. Rescue operations are still ongoing.


Police also found knives at the scene, say local media. Public broadcaster NHK said the man had been heard saying “drop dead” as he set fire to the building. The suspect’s relationship with the company is unclear.


Eyewitnesses described a loud explosion followed by an inferno that rapidly engulfed the building.


The official, Kazuhiro Hayashi, said most of the casualties had been on the stairs to the top floor, where they apparently collapsed trying to escape. Firefighters said they had found 33 bodies, two on the first floor, 11 on the second floor and 20 on the stairs from the third floor to the top floor, he said.


Some 36 people are in hospital, some in a critical condition, reports say. About 70 people were in the building when the fire started.


Reports say the man is not a former employee – but eyewitnesses say he appeared to be angry with the animation studio.


Kyoto Animation, known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 and has produced popular animation shows including K-On and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The studio also released a standalone feature anime A Silent Voice in 2016. One of KyoAni’s series, Violet Evergarden, was picked up by Netflix for a global market. It also publishes many popular graphic novels, mainly about teenage school life. The studio is known for paying its animators a regular salary, breaking with the industry’s standard of paying per frame – which is seen as putting extreme pressure on staff.