At least 24 people were killed and several others reported missing after a fire broke out at an animation production company in western Japan on Thursday, according to officials.

“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.

“At least 38 people were injured in the blaze, which was still burning nearly two hours after it started at the company in the city of Kyoto.”

“There are many injuries at the scene,” a spokesman for the Kyoto City Fire Department told AFP.

The fire department further said that “We began receiving calls around 10:35 am about the fire at the studio belonging to Kyoto Animation. The blaze was still burning two hours later”.

“Calling reported having heard a loud explosion from the first floor of Kyoto Animation and seeing smoke”, a fire department spokesman added.

“So far we have 10 serious injuries. I suspect many of those with serious injuries have lost consciousness”. he said.

“A man threw a liquid and set fire to it”. a Kyoto prefectural police spokesman told AFP.

“A man was detained in connection with the blaze, but there were no immediate details on the suspect”, said local media.

The victims were taken to the hospital after suffering injuries in the fire

There was no immediate statement from the company, which produced several well-known television anime series.