NOTE: This is a developing news story and will be updated throughout the day.
34 people have died following a suspected arson attack at Kyoto Animation, the beloved anime studio behind favourites like K-ON!, A Silent Voice and Sound Euphonium. Fire authorities have confirmed 34 people have been taken to hospital, with 7 uninjured, making this the deadliest mass-murder incident in Japanese criminal history.
30 people are still unaccounted for. Rescue operations are reportedly still ongoing. NHK reports that around 70 people, mostly employees, were in the building at the time of the fire.
Local media have reported that an unidentified male broke into the studio and sprayed petrol around, before the fire started at around 10:30am local time (01:35 GMT). The suspect, 41-year old Shinji Aoba, was not a current or former employee, and is being treated in hospital for his injuries. Knives were also found at the scene. According to NHK, Hideaki Hatta, President of Kyoto Animation, stated that he had recently received threatening emails addressed to the office and sales department, telling them to “die”.
Approximately 30 fire engines attended the scene, and the fire was finally extinquished five hours after it started. NHK reported that rescue efforts had ended approximately 12 hours after the fire started, with every person in Kyoto Animation Studio 1 being accounted for.
Anime News Network notes that police in Japan don’t confirm deaths at the scene, with fatalities having to be declared by a doctor at a hospital before deaths can be officially confirmed. The BBC has also stated that victims who have died but have yet to be officially declared are typically referred to as being found “in cardio-pulmonary arrest”.
Suguru Yamaguchi, who worked on Theme Song Composition for Tamako Market and its sequel, has reported that Noako Yamada (A Silent Voice) appears to be safe. Shoji Gatoh, creator of Full Metal Panic, has tweeted that he believes Tatsuya Ishihara (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) is also safe. All known employees in the building have now been accounted for, but names of the deceased have yet to be formally declared.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the incident “too appalling for words”, and offered his condolences.
The North American anime distributor Sentai Filmworks have launched a GoFundMe to raise funds with the goal of helping Kyoto Animation during their time of need. Anime UK News extends our sincerest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones, and Kyoto Animation.
UPDATE 1: Details on suspect added (09:45am).
UPDATE 2: Details on death threats, employees supposedly reported as safe added. Confirmed death roll updated (10:24am).
UPDATE 3: Tatsuya Ishihara reported safe (10:50am)
UPDATE 4: Added comment by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (11:08am).
UPDATE 5: Updated death toll (12:03pm).
UPDATE 6: Added information about threats (13:11pm).
UPDATE 7: Death toll updated (13:31pm).
UPDATE 8: Rescue effort ended (13:07pm).
UPDATE 9: Suspect named as Shinji Aoba (09:25am)
UPDATE 10: Death toll updated. (19:01pm).