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33 People Have Died After A Suspected Arson Attack At An Animation Studio In Japan

Witnesses heard a man shout "Die!" before the fire began, Japan's public broadcaster said.

Last updated on July 18, 2019, at 9:06 a.m. ET

Posted on July 18, 2019, at 6:19 a.m. ET

Kyodo Kyodo / Reuters

At least 33 people have died after a suspected arson attack at an animation studio in Kyoto, Japan.

Another 36 people were injured following the fire at Kyoto Animation, also known as KyoAni, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said.

Jiji Press / AFP / Getty Images

A 41-year-old man was arrested in connection with the fire after being treated in hospital, NHK said. According to NHK, a man was seen spreading a gasoline-like substance around the building and shouted “Die!” before lighting the fire.

While no motive has been confirmed, the suspected arson could be one of the deadliest attacks in postwar Japan.

Buddhika Weerasinghe / AFP / Getty Images

A Kyoto City firefighter near the scene of the fire.

Writing on Twitter, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the fire was “too appalling for words,” and offered his condolences to the victims.

本日、京都で発生した放火殺人事件では、多数の死傷者が出ており、あまりの凄惨さに言葉を失います。お亡くなりになられた方のご冥福をお祈りいたします。負傷された皆様にお見舞いを申し上げるとともに、一日も早い回復をお祈りしています。

KyoAni CEO Hideaki Hatta told reporters that the company had received anonymous death threats via email in the past.

Hatta said, "Why on earth did such violence have to be used?"

The death toll has been rising as more victims are confirmed. The Associated Press news agency earlier quoted a local fire official in Kyoto saying other people who were inside the building had no vital signs, using language commonly used in Japan when someone had died but their death had not been confirmed officially.

Jiji Press / AFP / Getty Images

The fire broke out on Thursday morning.

The fire broke out midmorning local time (around 9:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday). TV news footage showed thick black smoke billowing from the top floor of the animation studio, as firefighters battled the blaze.

Police say there have been multiple deaths in a fire at an animation studio in Kyoto. They say a 41-year-old man poured what appeared to be gasoline around the studio.

People have been paying tribute online to KyoAni, which was founded in 1981, and its staff.

Our hearts and thoughts are with Kyoto Animation 🖤

My thoughts and prayers to Kyoto Animation Studio and it’s workers who brought many of us pure joy, tears and unforgettable moments. May those artists get well soon.

I’m heartbroken seeing what happened to Kyoto Animation. I don’t know what that sick person must have had against that studio to set it on fire, but my condolences to all the hard working employees. I wish you all a safe recovery...

KyoAni really don't deserve this... Hopefully KyoAni can relieve from this pain quickly... You really brought us our great memories... Thank you... and please carry on! 🙏🏻🙏🏻#prayforkyoani



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