Kyoto Animation president says company has been receiving death threats for years.

On the morning of July 18, the Kyoto, Fushimi Ward studio of anime production house Kyoto Animation was the target of an arson attack when a man ignited gasoline he had spread around the interior of the building. An explosion occurred and the three-story structure, in which 73 people were estimated to have been working at the time, quickly became engulfed in flames, requiring some 30 fire trucks to put out the flames.

▼ The Fushimi Ward studio of Kyoto Animation, whose works include The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star, Clanaad, K-On!!, and Free!

The investigation into exactly what happened is still ongoing, but authorities now suspect the arsonist, 41-year-old man, purchased two 20-liter (5.3-gallon) cans of gasoline at a local gas station, then wheeled them on a dolly to the studio to conduct the attack. The arsonist himself suffered burns in the incident, and was apprehended by police roughly 100 meters (328 feet) from Kyoto Animation’s building.

The number of confirmed dead has no climbed to 33, with fire and rescue personnel finding bodies of the fallen on all three floors of the structure, as well as in its stairwell. A total of 36 Kyoto Animation employees were rushed to the hospital, and only seven are confirmed as having survived the incident with no need for immediate medical treatment. A handful of workers believed to have been in the building remain unaccounted for.

Kyoto Animation president Hideaki Hatta (who does not appear to have been at the studio during the attack; Kyoto Animation’s head office is located elsewhere in Kyoto Prefecture) said that in recent years, the company and its employees have received multiple death threat emails, and that these were reported to the police. Investigators are currently looking into whether or not the arsonist was involved in any of the previous threatening messages.

Sources: Asahi Shimbun Digital, Jiji via Jin, Twitter/@iwatobi_sc via Jin
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