23 feared dead after arson at Japanese animation studio

A man screaming "You die!" has burst into an animation production studio in Japan and set it on fire, leaving 23 people presumed dead.

The blaze in Kyoto injured another 36 people, some of them critically, Japanese authorities said.

The fire broke out in the three-storey Kyoto Animation building in Japan's ancient capital, after the suspect sprayed an unidentified liquid to accelerate the flames, police and fire officials said.

The suspect was also injured and taken to hospital, officials said. Police are investigating him on suspicion of arson.

Survivors who saw the attacker said he was not a colleague and that he was screaming "You die!" when he dumped the liquid and started the fire, according to Japanese media reports.

Footage on Japan's NHK national television showed grey smoke billowing from the charred building. Other footage showed windows blown off.

"There was an explosion, then I heard people shouting, some asking for help," a woman told TBS TV. "Black smoke was rising from windows on upper floors, then there was a man struggling to crawl out of the window."

Witnesses in the neighbourhood said they heard bangs coming from the building, and others said they saw people coming out blackened, bleeding and walking barefoot, Kyodo News reported.

Smoke billows from the building

Rescue officials set up an orange tent outside the studio building to provide first aid and sort out the injured.

Fire department officials said more than 70 people were in the building at the time of the fire and many of them ran outside.

Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio, and is known for mega-hit stories featuring high school girls, including Lucky Star, K-On! and Haruhi Suzumiya.

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