Tokyo, Jul 18 : At least 22 people were charred to death and dozens left injured when a fire broke out in an animation studio in Kyoto on Wednesday.
According to the reports here, dozens of people are still feared to be trapped inside the studio and some of the injured who were rushed to the hospital are said to be critical. A total of about 70 people are believed to have been working in the studio when the fire started at around 10.30 am, local time on Wednesday.
The death toll from the blaze is likely to rise as many bodies are still being recovered from the first and second floors of the three-story studio of Kyoto Animation Co. Local fire authorities and other officials, however, are still trying to confirm the details.
Neighbours told local media they heard what sounded like a series of loud explosions and saw thick black smoke billowing from the studio, which is known for producing popular TV animation series and artifacts. They said after rescue services arrived, they could see bodies being carried out of the building wrapped in blankets.
More than 30 fire tenders were immediately pressed into service to extinguish the inferno. The firefighters were still seen battling with the inferno till the last reports came in. According to the police, a 41-year-old man has admitted of spreading a flammable liquid, possibly gasoline, around the building before setting it on fire. The suspect was also injured in the incident and confessed to his crime on the way to hospital.
Local media while quoting one of a witness said that the suspect was yelling "Die" as he started the fire. A number of knives and knife-like objects were also found at the scene, although investigators have yet to determine if these belong to the suspect.
Kyoto Animation runs studios in Kyoto and nearby Uji, where the company is headquartered. Founded in the 1980s, the company is well known for its animations released in the 2000s that were popular with younger generations. The firm also produces related animation artifacts and runs training programs for animators. (UNI)