Local outlets reported that the suspect allegedly yelled, "Die!" as he entered the building in Kyoto

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A fire thought to be an arson attack ripped through a Japanese animation studio Thursday, killing at least 33 people in what was the country’s deadliest blaze in nearly two decades.

A Japanese police official confirmed that 33 people died in the fire at Kyoto Animation Co. in the city of Kyoto, according to the New York Times.

An additional 36 people were reportedly injured, including a 41-year-old male suspect, who allegedly poured a liquid around the studio before setting it aflame, CNN reported. The suspect was also allegedly carrying a backpack containing knives.

Local newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that witnesses heard the suspect allegedly yell, “Die!” as he entered the building.

An aerial photo shows the fire site burning with fire in Kyoto on July 18, 2019. On the morning of 18th, a fire occurred with an explosion sound at a studio of an animation production company "Kyoto Animation" in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, and 38 people were injured, and about 10 of them were heavy unconscious people, and some of them died. The police have gotten hold of 41-year-old man and investigated on suspicion of an arson that the man scattered like gasoline. Kyoto Animation produced poplar animations such as "K-On!", "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" and" Sound! Euphonium". ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )
Credit: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP
This aerial view shows the rescue and recover scene after a fire at an animation company building killed some two dozen people in Kyoto on July 18, 2019. - At least 24 people were feared dead in a suspected arson attack on the animation company in the Japanese city of Kyoto on July 18, a fire department official told AFP. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Credit: JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty

Following the fatal fire, Kyoto Animation CEO Hideaki Hatta told reporters that his studio had previously received threats via email, but had responded “sincerely” each time, according to the Associated Press.

An aerial photo shows the fire site burning with fire in Kyoto on July 18, 2019. On the morning of 18th, a fire occurred with an explosion sound at a studio of an animation production company "Kyoto Animation" in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, and 38 people were injured, and about 10 of them were heavy unconscious people, and some of them died. The police have gotten hold of 41-year-old man and investigated on suspicion of an arson that the man scattered like gasoline. Kyoto Animation produced poplar animations such as "K-On!", "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" and" Sound! Euphonium". ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )
Credit: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

“Why on earth did such violence have to be used?” Hatta said.

Seventy people were in the Kyoto offices when the blaze erupted around 10:30 a.m. local time, according to the Times.

Kyoto fire department official Mikihide Daikoku told the AP firefighters found more than a dozen people presumed dead on the top floor of the three-story building, and others collapsed on stairs leading up to the roof.

Photo taken July 18, 2019, shows the three-story studio of Kyoto Animation Co. in Kyoto after a man started a fire there. The studio is known for producing the popular TV animation series "K-On!!" and "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya." (Kyodo via AP Images) ==Kyodo
Credit: Kyodo via AP

“Today, we had many casualties in a fatal arson attack that happened in Kyoto,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrote on Twitter, as translated by the Times. “It is so horrifying that I am at a loss for words. I’d like to express my deepest condolences to the victims. I offer my thoughts to those who have been wounded and pray for their recovery, by even one day.”

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The fire was reportedly the deadliest in the country since a 2001 blaze at a gambling club killed 44 people in Tokyo.

Kyoto Animation was founded in 1981, and has produced popular anime series like K-On!, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Sound! Euphonium.