A popular animation production studio in Kyoto, Japan has gone up in flames after a reported arson attack, leaving a shocking 33 people confirmed or presumed dead, and another 36 injured - some critically - according to Japanese fire department statements. It's Japan's worst case of arson in decades and among the highest mass casualty events in its recent history.
The three-story building was quickly engulfed after a man sprayed a flammable liquid onto it while reportedly shouting, "You die!" according to local media reports. Many among the deceased had been trapped on the top floor and perished attempting to to get to the roof.
Police arrested a 41-year-old man who had shouted “die” as he poured what appeared to be petrol around the three-story Kyoto Animation building shortly after 10 a.m. — Reuters
The suspect has been detained and is being treated for injuries at a hospital. Early reports didn't give a motive or were able to identify whether he had been an employee of Kyoto Animation Co., possibly disgruntled or engaged in revenge attack.
An emergency responder told the AFP, "Callers reported having heard a loud explosion from the first floor of Kyoto Animation and seeing smoke." It total some 70 people had been working inside the building at the time of the attack.
It was among the deadliest fires in Japan's recent history, as the AP reports:
Authorities say 20 people have been now confirmed dead, with nearly 10 others presumed dead. The outcome makes the case the deadliest fire since a 2001 fire that killed 44 in Tokyo’s Kabukicho entertainment district.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the arson attack “too appalling for words” in a statement posted to social media.
Though nation-wide Japan is marked by low crime incidents, occasional major senseless tragedies rock the country and grab world headlines.
Kyoto Animation has produced the "Sound! Euphonium" series and the upcoming "Free! Road to the World — The Dream" movie, according to Reuters.