Japanese Anime Studio Hit With Suspected Arson, Killing At Least 16

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A major anime studio in Kyoto, Japan, was engulfed in flames in a suspected act of arson that killed at least 16 people, according to Japan's national broadcaster NHK.

"Dozens more are injured and some others are without vital signs," the broadcaster said.

Death tolls from the fire at Kyoto Animation have varied – reporter Abigail Leonard told NPR that Kyoto fire department official Yusuke Hisanage said seven people were pronounced dead and 20 others had "no vital signs." He added that thirty-six people were suffering injuries, ranging from minor to severe.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a tweet that the apparently deliberate act is "too appalling for words."

According to local media reports, a man reportedly burst into Kyoto Animation's building and shouted "die" as he poured out a flammable liquid. At the time, there were reportedly about 70 people in the building. A suspect in his 40s has been taken into custody.

"The man reportedly admitted as he was being taken to hospital that he spread the liquid around before setting it on fire," NHK reported.

Fire department official Satoshi Fujiwara told The Associated Press that rescue workers were discovering bodies throughout the three-story building. "Some of them were found on the stairs, where they apparently collapsed while gasping for air and trying to go out to the roof," he said, according to the wire service.

It's not clear what the suspect's relationship is to the anime studio, sometimes called KyoAni and famous for popular series such as Lucky Star, K-On! and Violet Evergarden.

The studio was "founded by a husband and wife team nearly 40 years ago," Leonard told NPR from Tokyo.

It's also known in the anime industry for its more generous system of worker pay, the BBC reported. "The studio is also known for paying its animators a regular salary, breaking with the industry's standard of paying per frame which is seen as putting extreme pressure on staff."

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