Kyoto Prefectural Police announced on Saturday evening that one more male victim of July 18’s fire at Kyoto Animation’s 1st Studio building passed away that afternoon. The male studio employee in his 20s had been able to evacuate the first floor of the building on his own, but had received burns throughout his body. He was then transported to a hospital where he was being treated for his injuries, until his passing before 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The death toll of the blaze caused by suspected arson now stands at 35 people. 33 more people were seriously injured, and 10 of them are still hospitalized as of Saturday.
In a separate development, Honobu Yonezawa, the author of the HYOUKA novel series that Kyoto Animation adapted into a television anime, reported on Twitter on Saturday that he donated 1,000,000 yen (about US$9,200) to Kyoto Animation’s relief efforts.
On July 18 at around 10:30 a.m. JST, a devastating fire broke out at Kyoto Animation’s 1st Studio building, killing 35 people and injuring 33 others. 30 fire engines responded to the fire, and firefighters were able to extinguish most of the fire within five hours after it started, but the fire was not fully put out until 6:20 a.m. on July 19.
Of those confirmed dead after being located at the studio, firefighters found two people on the first floor, 11 people on the second floor, one person in a stairwell between the second and third floors, and 19 people on the stairwell between the third floor and the rooftop. Of those killed, police have reported that 21 were women and 14 were men.
Kyoto Prefectural Police have already apprehended a 41-year-old man who allegedly used gasoline to start the fire, and are investigating the case as arson. The suspect is among those injured (although he is separate from the above-mentioned injured people). The suspect was taken to another hospital via helicopter on July 20. Police have yet to fully arrest or interrogate the suspect, as he is still injured, and as such have not released an official statement on the suspect’s motive. Police will later interrogate the subject to obtain his motive for the alleged attack.
The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper stated that according to investigative sources, the suspect told police that he started the fire because he alleges Kyoto Animation “stole his novel.” Hatta stated on July 20 that he has never heard the suspect’s name before, and no one by the suspect’s name has submitted a novel to the company. Kyoto Animation solicits drafts of novels as part of its Kyoto Animation Awards program.
In an interview for the mass media on July 20, Kyoto Animation president Hideaki Hatta stated that after the fire, he is considering demolishing the building and creating a public park at the spot of the fire that will include a monument. He added, “when I consider the staff and the people in this neighborhood, there are people who don’t want to see such a gruesome sight.” Hatta is also considering hosting a memorial ceremony for the victims.
He also told the press that all the messages of support from around the world are “becoming our emotional support.”
Aside from a fire in a commercial building that killed 44 people in 2001 (where arson was suspected), the incident is the worst mass murder in Japan’s post-World War II history.
Several organizations, such as Sentai Filmworks, Crunchyroll, the Animate retail chain, the city of Uji, and others are collecting donations or messages of support to support the company and the victims.