Kyoto Arson: Animator describes horrific moments

Media were finally allowed near the animation studio in Kyoto that was attacked by an arsonist on Thursday. One studio worker described for NHK what was happening at the scene at the time.

A man used a flammable liquid to set fire to the studio. The death toll from the blaze stands at 34. Another 34 were injured.

Among them is a South Korean national, according to the country's Foreign Ministry. Officials say she is in critical condition.

One employee who was inside the studio at the time of the attack spoke to NHK on condition of anonymity. He said he saw smoke everywhere as soon as he heard people shouting "Fire!"

He said, "I couldn't see anything. It was as if somebody had splashed black ink or paint all over the place. The smell was terrible. I felt that even taking one breath might kill me."

He says he ran to a balcony on the second floor. He added, "I felt a blast of hot air. I couldn't bear it anymore. I had to choose between jumping and getting hurt or letting the smoke kill me. It was a choice between life or death."

Some people remain unaccounted for. One of them is Sachie Tsuda. She's worked for Kyoto Animation for about 20 years.

Her father says police told him it will take at least a week to get the results of a DNA analysis.

He said, "At one point, I tried to imagine what my daughter was going through. But I stopped when I realized she wasn't coming back. I don't know if I didn't want to think about it or if I wasn't able to. But the bottom line is nothing was on my mind anymore."

Many people are turning up to pay their respects. A female animation fan said, "I was really quiet in high school, but thanks to Kyoto Animation, I was able to make friends. I owe them so much."

A male fan said, "Works by Kyoto Animation have encouraged me a lot. I couldn't help but come here today to pay my respects."

The suspect, Shinji Aoba, was badly burned in the fire and was transferred to a hospital that specializes in burn treatment on Saturday.

Police say Aoba may have held a grudge against the firm. An eyewitness said Aoba yelled something about the studio stealing the plot of his novel. Police say they cannot confirm that he has ever published one.
They say he has never worked for the company.

Studio President Hideaki Hatta joined police at the site on Saturday. He said no one at the studio recognized Aoba and that they had never received an email with his name on it.

Hatta said, "We've never heard his name before. I understand he's 41 years old. We would have recognized him immediately if he had contacted us before."

Hatta said he had no words to express his grief at the loss of so many talented people.