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Suspect in Kyoto anime arson recovers enough to be arrested

About 70 people were working inside the studio in southern Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, at the time of the attack.

Firefighters respond to a building fire of Kyoto Animation's No. 1 studio in July.

Firefighters respond to a building fire of Kyoto Animation’s No. 1 studio in July.Credit:Kyodo News/AP

One of the survivors, an animator, told Japanese media he jumped from a window of the three-story building gasping for air amid scorching heat after seeing “a black mushroom cloud” rising from downstairs.

Many others tried but failed to escape to the roof, fire officials said. Many died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Aoba sustained severe burns on his face, torso and limbs and was unconscious for weeks. He reportedly still cannot walk or feed himself without assistance. Police were to pursue their investigation while carefully monitoring his health.

“We will now focus on the suspect’s interrogation and pursue our investigation in order to fully examine the crime,” police investigator Toshiyuki Kawase told reporters.

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Japanese television footage showed Aoba, his face scarred and eyebrows lost apparently from the fire, strapped to a stretcher as he was carried into a police station.

Police have said Aoba told them he set the fire because he thought “(Kyoto Animation) stole novels.” He told investigators Monday that he thought he could kill many people with gasoline, Japanese media reports said.

Prosecutors are expected to seek formal criminal charges against him in a few weeks.

Kyoto Animation’s hits include “Lucky Star” of 2008, “K-On!” in 2011 and “Haruhi Suzumiya” in 2009. Its new feature film, “Violet Evergarden,” about a woman who professionally writes letters for clients, was scheduled to open in April but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fire was Japan’s deadliest since 2001, when a blaze in Tokyo’s Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people in the country’s worst known case of arson in modern times.

Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

AP

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