At least 33 people were killed and dozens more injured after an arsonist allegedly set fire to a three-story animation studio in Kyoto, Japan, on Thursday.
Local police confirmed that 70 people were inside Kyoto’s Animation studio when a 41-year-old man threw what appeared to be gasoline, before setting fire to the building at around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.
At least 33 people have died as a result of the blaze and dozens more taken to hospital, many of whom were in life-threatening condition. The suspect survived the fire but was also taken to hospital for his injuries, meaning police were unable to question him.
The precise motives behind the believed attack currently remain unclear, although various reports indicate that he may have had a vendetta against the studio.
“A person with singed hair was lying down and there were bloody footprints,” a 59-year-old woman told local news agency Kyodo. “He seemed to be in pain, irritated and suffering, but also angry as if he was resentful. I heard him saying something like ‘you copied it.'”
Kyoto Animation Director Hideaki Hatta told local media that the company had recently been receiving threatening emails.
“They were addressed to our office and sales department and told us to die,” he said. “It is unbearable that the people who helped carry Japan’s animation industry were hurt and lost their lives in this way.”
The tragedy has sent shockwaves among the animation world, with fans around the world expressing their grief at the loss of one of Japan’s most successful animation studios.
Since its foundation in 1981, the studio, most commonly known as KyoAni, has produced dozens of popular animé series such as K-On and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. One of their most recent series, Violet Evergarden, was picked up by Netflix for global distribution, receiving significant praise from viewers and critics alike.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo took to Twitter to offer his condolences, saying he was left “speechless” by the gruesomeness of the crime.
“There are a lot of casualties following today’s arson murder spree in Kyoto,” he wrote. “I’m speechless. I pray for the souls of those who have passed away. I would like to express my condolences to all of the injured and wish them a speedy recovery.”