A suspected arson attack on an animation production company in Japan has claimed 33 lives and injured dozens on Thursday, according to reports.
Japan police are yet to confirm any motive behind the arson attack.
The fire gutted the three-storey building in the city of Kyoto that housed Kyoto Animation, which is behind famous anime television productions.
The incident sparked an outpouring of support from the industry and fans worldwide, including a viral fundraising campaign.
“Of the 33, two were found on the ground floor, 11 on the second and 20 on the third and also on the staircases that lead to the rooftop,” the fire department official told AFP.
“Another 36 people were injured, including 10 in serious condition”, he said.
One of the eyewitnesses said, “The blaze left people with serious wounds”.
The blaze started near the front door of the building in the early hours of Thursday.
“The blaze in the city of Kyoto appeared to have been started deliberately, but there was no immediate information on a possible motive”, police said.
“There are many injuries at the scene,” a spokesman for the Kyoto City Fire Department told AFP.
The fire department further said that they began receiving calls around 10:35 am about the fire at the studio belonging to Kyoto Animation. The blaze went on even after two hours.
The victims were rushed to hospital after suffering injuries in the fire.
There was no immediate statement from the company, which produced several well-known television anime series.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took to Twitter to express his horror, saying “It’s so dreadful that I’m lost for words”.
“I pray for those who passed away.”
Police said, “We are still investigating the cause of the fire” but added that it was a suspected arson attack”.