TOKYO: An arson attack an animation studio in the Japanese city of Kyoto killed at least 33 people and injured 36 others.
Police said the 41-year-old suspect broke into the Kyoto Animation studio on Thursday morning and sprayed petrol before igniting it.
Police has detained suspect, who was also critically injured in the attack.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the incident was “too appalling for words” and offered condolences.
Kyoto Animation, known as KyoAni, produces films and graphic novels and is well regarded by fans for the quality of its productions.
The fire broke out at the three-storey building at around 10:30 local time (01:35 GMT) on Thursday.
Police also found knives at the scene, say local media. NHK said the man had been heard saying “drop dead” as he set fire to the building.
The suspect’s relationship with the company is unclear.
It took firefighters five hours to bring the blaze under control, reports said
Eyewitnesses described a loud explosion followed by an inferno that rapidly engulfed the building.
“I saw some people with burns, covered with something. They were rushed to the ambulance,” one neighbour said.
Firefighters found 10 of the victims on the stairs linking the second floor to the roof and it is feared more people could still be on the top floor.
Japanese officials said the victims were dead or “in cardio-pulmonary arrest” – a formulation routinely used in Japan for victims who have died but whose deaths have not yet been officially confirmed.
Some 36 people are in hospital, some in a critical condition, reports say. About 70 people were in the building when the fire started.
Reports say the man is not a former employee – but eyewitnesses say he appeared to be angry with the animation studio.
They said he ran away from the building towards a nearby train station after the fire started but fell to the ground. Some reports said he was pursued by employees of Kyoto Animation.