Tokyo: A man torched a famous animation studio in Kyoto, leaving 33 people dead in the country’s worst mass killing in almost 20 years, police in Japan are inspecting.
Officers haven’t been able to question the 41-year-old suspicious, who is in hospital taking treatment for severe burns sustained when he apparently poured what showed to be gasoline on Kyoto Animation and set it on fire.
A witness told police the suspect shouted “Die!” as he dropped the liquid on the building’s ground floor Thursday morning.
A Kyoto Prefecture police spokesperson said on Thursday that the man was later found to be carrying a rucksack containing several knives.
35 injured, 20 women, 12 men and another individual whose gender was unknown died in the fire.
It was the worst mass killing in the country since a 2001 arson attack on a building in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district, which killed 44 people. The death toll from Thursday’s fire was greater than the Tokyo sarin gas attack on a subway in 1995, which killed 13.
The fire broke out at about 10:30 a.m. local time on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET) in the company’s 1st Studio building in Kyoto’s Fushimi-ku district. Police said a citizen reported hearing a sound like an explosion coming from the studio.
Footage from the scene showed thick smoke billowing out of the four-story building, which is located in a residential area several kilometers south of Kyoto Station, as firefighters worked to wet the flames.
— 安倍晋三 (@AbeShinzo) July 18, 2019
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tweeted that he was left speechless at the “gruesomeness of the crime,” and offered sympathies to sufferers.
Hideaki Yata CEO Kyoto Animation’s told reporters the company has received death threats in the past through the mail, which are mentioned to police. He expressed grief that workers in the industry had been targeted.
He added, “They are the people who carry the Japan’s animation industry on their shoulders, I can’t bear to accept the fact they are being hurt or losing their lives.”
According to its website, founded in 1981, Kyoto Animation — known as KyoAni — produces animations and publishes anime novels, comics and books.
On Thursday at about 10:30 a.m. local time the fire started
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.
The company’s philosophy as posted on its website includes keeping a “humanitarian” corporate culture and believes that “promoting the growth of people is equal to creating the brightness of works.”
There was an expression of grief on Twitter on Thursday with fans of the studio offering their condolences.
Our hearts and thoughts are with Kyoto Animation 🖤
— Sentai 🌞 Filmworks (@SentaiFilmworks) July 18, 2019
Kyoto Animation is a beloved, organized, & independent studio full of talented people who’ve worked/helped tirelessly on these gorgeously animated & heartwarming shows that spread joy to millions. My condolences to all the brilliant staffs & their families. pic.twitter.com/B2lbrYf1qh
— ThrowingMyselfAtTheSun (@PrideWrathToday) July 18, 2019