A tragedy unfolded at an anime studio in the Japanese city of Kyoto Thursday after a suspected arsonist set the building alight, killing 33 people and injuring dozens.
The Kyoto Animation Co building at the heart of the city was quickly engulfed in flames after the suspect, who has since been detained by police, used a flammable substance, possibly gasoline, to start the fire.
The blaze erupted at 10.30 am local time (1.30am GMT) and raged for five hours until it was brought under control by firefighters.
TV footage from the scene showed flames and smoked coming through the windows and rood of the building.
Kyoto police sources told Japanese public TV NHK that 33 people had died in the inferno, Japan's deadliest in decades.
The city's fire department told Efe that 36 people were injured, 10 seriously.
It is not yet known how many others managed to escape the building of their own accord.
It is thought that 70 people were inside at the time of the blaze.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his condolences to the victims and their families.
He tweeted: "Today, many people were killed and wounded in an arson murder case in Kyoto.
"Too appalling for words."
An eye-witness told Kyodo news agency that they had seen several people "covered in blood" and who had suffered severe burns "all over their body".
One of the residents of a neighboring building told NHK he had heard "what sounded like an explosion" at about 10.30 am, which was followed by smoke billowing from the studio.
The suspect, 41, was arrested at the scene and hospitalized pending questioning in the coming hours.
Images posted to social media appear to show him lying on the ground at the scene, surrounded by police and with obvious burns to his legs.
Police sources said the man, who has tattoos on his abdomen, had admitted his guilt.
One of the studio's managers said one or two company employees had received threatening e-mail in recent years and that lawyers were dealing with the incidents.
The animation firm, with about 160 employees, was set up in 1981 and produces anime movies and programs for television, including the series "K-ON!!" and "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya." EFE-EPA