Smoke billows from a three-story building of Kyoto Animation in a fire in Kyoto, western Japan, Thursday, July 18, 2019. Kyoto prefectural police said the fire broke out Thursday morning after a man burst into it and spread unidentified liquid and put fire. (Kyodo News via AP)

Man shouting ‘You die’ kills 33 at Japan anime studio

The man allegedly doused the building with a flammable liquid

A man screaming “You die!” burst into an animation studio in Kyoto, doused it with a flammable liquid and set it on fire Thursday, killing 33 people in an attack that shocked the country and brought an outpouring of grief from anime fans.

Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in a blaze that sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate — and futile — attempt to escape. Others emerged bleeding, blackened and barefoot.

The suspect was injured and taken to a hospital. Police identified him only a 41-year-old man who was not a company employee. They gave no immediate details on the motive.

Most of the victims were employees of Kyoto Animation, which does work on feature films and TV productions but is best known for its mega-hit stories featuring high school girls. The stories are so popular that some of the places depicted have become pilgrimage sites for fans.

The blaze started in the three-story building in Japan’s ancient capital after the attacker sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant, police and fire officials said.

“There was an explosion, then I heard people shouting, some asking for help,” a witness told TBS TV. “Black smoke was rising from windows on upper floors. Ten there was a man struggling to crawl out of the window.”

Japanese media reported the fire might have been set near the front door, forcing people to find other ways out.

Firefighters found 33 bodies, 20 of them on the third floor and some on the stairs to the roof, where they apparently collapsed, Kyoto fire official Kazuhiro Hayashi said. Two were found dead on the first floor, 11 others on the second floor, he said.

A witness who saw the attacker being approached by police told Japanese networks that the man admitted spreading gasoline and setting the fire with a lighter. She told NHK public television that the man had burns on his arms and legs and was angrily complaining that something of his had been “stolen,” possibly by the company.

NHK footage also showed sharp knives police had collected from the scene, though it was not clear if they belonged to the attacker.

Survivors said he was screaming “You die!” as he dumped the liquid, according to Japanese media. They said some of the survivors got splashed with the liquid.

Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio, and its hits include “Lucky Star” of 2008, “K-On!” in 2011 and “Haruhi Suzumiya” in 2009.

The company does not have a major presence outside Japan, though it was hired to do secondary animation work on a 1998 “Pokemon” feature that appeared in U.S. theatres and a “Winnie the Pooh” video.

“My heart is in extreme pain. Why on earth did such violence have to be used?” company president Hideaki Hatta said. Hatta said the company had received anonymous death threats by email in the past, but he did not link them to Thursday’s attack.

Anime fans expressed anger, prayed and mourned the victims on social media. A cloud-funding site was set up to help the company rebuild.

Fire officials said more than 70 people were in the building at the time.

The death toll exceeded that of a 2016 attack by a man who stabbed and killed 19 people at a nursing home in Tokyo.

A fire in 2001 in Tokyo’s congested Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people in the country’s worst known case of arson in modern times. Police never announced an arrest in the setting of the blaze, though five people were convicted of negligence.

___

Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

New Sonic the Hedgehog trailer shows off Ladysmith and new character animation

At long last, Sonic the Hedgehog will hit theatres on February 14

Diamond District woman warns against the use of rat poison

At some point between breakfast and lunch Martin had suddenly collapsed and died

Calling all believers: Chemainus Theatre Festival runs Miracle on 34th Street

Opening night is Friday, November 15, and closing is December 29

Remembering Jack Neil, ace fighter pilot and father

Remembrance Day is an opportunity for John Neil to remember his father, Jack

Ladysmith Arts Council creates Remembrance Day poppies for display

The poppies were prepared by both established artists, and student artists

VIDEO: Disney Plus gives Canadians a streaming platform that nearly matches U.S. version

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films

Nearly half of B.C. drivers nervous in winter conditions: BCAA

‘Wait and see’ approach common practice for 32% of B.C. motorists

Autism support dog refused bus access for being a ‘pet’

B.C. grandmother files complaint with TransLink, calls for better awareness of service dogs

Students plan rally at B.C. education minister’s office as district strike enters third week

Saanich School District students plan to rally outside Rob Fleming’s constituency office in Victoria

Sex assault charge stayed against Port Moody mayor

Rob Vagramov appeared in provincial court in Port Coquitlam

73% of B.C. residents agree with a temporary ban on vaping products: poll

54% say they would not date someone who vapes, Research Co. poll suggests

B.C.’s 13-cent gasoline gap still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Former Vancouver Canucks player suing financial advisors for negligence

Jason Garrison claimed his advisors failed to take his circumstances into account

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

Most Read