Twelve bodies with no sign of life were found in the alleged criminal fire of an animation studio in the city of Kyoto (western Japan), said Thursday firefighters. "The death of an unidentified person has been confirmed," said a spokesman for the Kyoto firefighters. At least 35 people were injured.
"Twelve people in cardiac arrest were found on the ground floor and first floor" of the building which has three levels, said a spokesman for firefighters, adding that several other employees "seem not to have managed to escape "from the building on fire.
The fire apparently started around 10:30 am local time, in a building of the company Kyoto Animation, which produces successful television series. It was still going on two hours later, white smoke escaping from the windows of the building according to television pictures.
Kyoto Animation is a company that produces cartoons, creates characters, designs and sells products derived from its series often drawn from manga. The firm, which also includes an animation school, has two studio buildings (including the one that was burned down) and its headquarters in Kyoto Prefecture. It employs about 160 people.
35 fire trucks on site
"We are following the situation and seeing how we are going to proceed, we can not say more for the moment," said a telephone person from the studio's parent company. The rescue services, which sent 35 fire trucks and other vehicles to the scene, reported "numerous injuries". Many of the seriously injured have lost consciousness, according to a firefighter representative.
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Police suspect criminal origin. "A man poured a flammable liquid and set it on fire," said a spokesman for the Kyoto Police Prefecture. According to the media, he is a man in his forties who is also reported to have been wounded, hospitalized and under police surveillance.