The death toll of suspected arson at a Japanese animation studio in Kyoto has jumped to at least 24 people, fire officials told AFP news agency.
Kyoto’s fire department told Euronews that at least 13 people had died but AFP reported that at least 11 more people were found “in cardio-respiratory arrest” — a term used in Japan to signify a person’s death before it becomes official.
The officials added that there were at least 36 injured.
Police said the fire seemed to have been started deliberately but there was no clear motive.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK said police had taken a 41-year-old man into custody. The suspect allegedly shouted “Die!” as he poured what is believed to be gasoline around the three-storey building shortly after 3 am CEST.
“A man threw a liquid and set fire to it,” a Kyoto prefectural police spokesman told AFP.
The man was injured and was taken to a hospital, avoiding being questioned by police, reported the broadcaster.
Television footage showed smoke coming out of the windows of the building, its facade turned black by the smoke.
“I heard the sound of fire engines and stepped outside my house, and saw big flames spewing out of the building,” a man told NHK.
“The fire was raging hard. I saw red flames flaring.”
Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe tweeted his condolences, stating the suspected arson was “too appalling for” words.