Over 20 Killed in Suspected Arson at Japan Animation Studio (+Video)

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - At least 23 people are feared dead and 36 injured in a suspected arson attack at a renowned animation studio in the Japanese city of Kyoto Thursday, fire officials said.

Over 20 Killed in Suspected Arson at Japan Animation Studio (+Video)

Kazuhiro Hayashi, a Kyoto fire department official, told the Associated Press that 13 people have been confirmed dead following the blaze at Kyoto Animation's offices, and more than 10 others presumed dead.

At least 36 others have been injured, some of them critically, he said.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the fire "too appalling for words" in a post on Twitter and offered his condolences to the victims' families.

The blaze appeared to have been started deliberately, police said, but there was no information on a possible motive.

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

Local media said a 41-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the blaze.

Public broadcaster NHK said the man allegedly shouted "You die" as he poured what appeared to be gasoline around the three-story building shortly after 10am local time (01:00 GMT).

NHK said the suspect had been taken to hospital after suffering injuries in the fire.

Footage of the blaze showed thick white smoke pouring from windows of the three-story building. Its facade was charred black on much of one side where the flames had burned out of the windows.

The fire department said it began receiving calls around 10:35am local time (01:35 GMT) about the fire.

"Callers reported having heard a loud explosion from the first floor of Kyoto Animation and seeing smoke," a fire department spokesman told AFP news agency.

He said the fire department had dispatched 35 fire engines and other fire-fighting vehicles to the site.

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

"We are in the process of learning what happened," said a woman who answered the phone at the firm's headquarters in Uji City in the Kyoto region.

"We cannot tell you anything more," she added.

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