24 dead in Japan studio arson

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 19 Jul 2019

A suspected arson attack on an animation production company in Japan killed 24 people and injured dozens more yesterday, with flames gutting the building in the city of Kyoto.

Police said there was no information on a possible motive.

The toll continued to climb hours after the fire began, with the fire department saying bodies were being discovered as they searched the ravaged building.

A fire department official said at least 11 more people had been found "in cardio-respiratory arrest," a term used in Japan to signify a victim's death before it is officially certified.

The discoveries, on the building's second floor and a stairwell leading to the roof, raised the toll to at least 24 dead.

Officials said 35 people had also been injured in the fire, 10 of whom were in serious condition, and local media said around 70 people were believed to have been in the building when the fire started.

Thick white smoke was seen pouring from the three-story building. Its facade was charred black on much of one side where the flames had shot out of the windows.

The fire department said it received calls at around 10.35 am (9.35am HKT) about the fire.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that a man had been detained in connection with the blaze and was later taken to the hospital.

It reported that the suspect had poured a petrol-like substance around the building and said "drop dead" as he set fire to it.

There was no immediate statement from the studio, which produced several well-known anime series, including The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and K-ON!

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