August 20, 2019
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Investigation begins into Japan anime studio attack that killed 33

Tokyo, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- Around 100 investigators on Friday began work at an animation studio in Japan's old Imperial capital, where a suspected arson attack caused the death of 33 people, most of whom were trapped in a stairwell trying to reach the building's rooftop.

The fire at Kyoto Animation studio that broke out at around 10.30am on Thursday with around 74 people inside, was completely extinguished at around 6am on Friday.

Three hours later, police and firefighters entered the building to begin investigating the incident, one of the worst tragedies in the country in recent decades.

The man believed to be behind the attack is in custody in hospital and was identified by police on Friday as 41-year-old Shinji Aoba from the city of Saitama, north of Tokyo, where a neighbor described him as mentally imbalanced.

The man accused the firm of stealing his ideas, local media reported.

Although the suspect made a few preliminary statements after being arrested near the site of the attack, authorities are waiting for him to recover from burns he suffered to begin a formal interrogation.

As well as the 33 deaths, another 35 people were also injured in the fire, 10 of them seriously, according to latest reports.

Several local media outlets, including Japanese agency Kyodo News, reported that 19 people were found in the stairwell leading to the roof, the door to which was shut.

Police said many of the victims died of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to national broadcaster NHK.

A hypothesis began to emerge that the fuel used to start the fire was procured at a nearby petrol station, where an unknown man, believed to be the suspect, bought 40 liters of gasoline in two containers.

The suspect walked into the building shouting "Die!" on Thursday before splashing flammable liquid and starting the fire, Kyodo News reported, citing police.

Kyoto Animation's CEO Hideaki Hatta said Thursday he had received threatening emails addressed to the office and sales department, telling them to die, NHK reported.

According to different testimonies, the alleged perpetrator had a history of being mentally imbalanced.

One of Aoba's neighbors said that once when loud noise was coming from inside the man’s apartment and he knocked on the door to complain, Aoba grabbed him by his collar, NHK said.

There has been an outpouring of support for Kyoto Animation, especially from the anime world, and Kyoto residents have been visiting the incident site to offer prayers and flowers for the victims.

A campaign on a fundraising website was launched to help the company recover financially from the tragedy. After just one day, almost $1.3 million had been raised with many donations being of $5-$10.


Related content

Most victims of deadly arson attack in Japan died trying to reach rooftop

Tokyo, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- The bodies of 19 of the 33 people who died in an arson attack against an animation studio in Japan's old Imperial capital were found on the stairway leading up to the rooftop, Japanese officials said on Friday.

The premises of the Kyoto Animation anime studio were engulfed in flames after a 41-year-old man – who has reportedly accused the firm of stealing from him – set fire to the building on Thursday morning.

Police and fire department sources told Kyodo news agency that the bodies of 19 victims were found on the staircase connecting the third floor to the building's rooftop.

When emergency teams arrived at the site, they found the door to the rooftop was closed.

Authorities believe the people trying to escape to the rooftop amid smoke and flames but were unable to do so as the door was shut.

Public broadcaster NHK said that the rescue teams found the door was unlocked, leading investigators to speculate it may have been blocked by bodies that accumulated near it and prevented the rest from accessing the roof.

Apart from the 19 bodies found at the stairway, 11 others were found on the second floor, two on the first and one more on the stairs that connected the second and third floors.

The fire was propagated by a flammable liquid – possibly gasoline – that the suspect allegedly poured around the premises.

He suffered burns to his body as well and was detained about 100 meters (328 feet) from the site.

According to witnesses, the man walked into the building shouting "Die!"

A neighbor said that when the suspect was apprehended by police, he claimed that he had attacked the building because the company had copied or stolen something from him.

Apart from the 33 dead, there are more than 30 wounded.

There were reportedly 74 people inside the building when the alleged arsonist started the blaze.


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