Thirty people were feared dead in an arson attack on a Japanese animation studio on Thursday, authorities said, after a man was seen shouting "die" as he doused the building with fuel in the nation's worst mass killing in almost two decades.
Television footage showed smoke coming out of the windows of the building, its facade turned black by the smoke. Get it for your iPhone here.
A motive for the apparent attack remained unclear hours after the blaze. The suspect was also injured and taken to a hospital, officials said. Two were found dead on the first floor, 11 others on the second floor, he said.
On Twitter, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described the attack as "too appalling for words" and expressed condolences to the victims.
A man suspected of starting the fire Thursday is among those injured and treated in a hospital.
The studio has an outsized role in Japan's animation industry that outstrips the list of works it has produced, said Tokyo-based film commentator Yuichi Maeda.
After receiving a distress call about "an explosion on the first floor" of the studio, thirty fire trucks from the Kyoto City Fire Department arrived at the scene to battle the blaze, which spread over the roughly 700 square meters of space in the three-floor reinforced concrete structure.
There were fears the toll could rise further, with officials saying they believed several more people had failed to escape the fire.
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The president of a popular Japanese animation production company that was gutted in a deadly fire has said his company has received anonymous death threats.
Police have confirmed the deaths of 16 people as well as a number of injuries.
It may not be as famous as Japanese anime legend Studio Ghibli, but Kyoto Animation has many core fans and is known as a team of skilled animators that provides top-quality work for others and can produce its own hits, such as "Lucky Star", "K-On!" and the "Haruhi Suzumiya" series.
One of KyoAni's series, Violet Evergarden, was picked up by Netflix for a global market.
Violent crime is relatively rare in Japan but occasional high-profile incidents have shocked the nation.
In 2016, a knife-wielding man went on the rampage at a care home for the mentally disabled, killing 19 in the country's worst mass killing in decades.