41 killed in South Korean hospital blaze

28 January, 2018, 00:58 | Author: Kim Reid
  • South Korea

At least 37 people are dead and dozens injured following a Friday morning fire that broke out in a hospital emergency room in Miryang, a town in southeastern South Korea.

The National Fire Agency earlier said 39 were killed in the fire at Sejong Hospital in the city of Miryang.

It was the country's second major blaze in a month, and officials admitted that there was no sprinkler system installed at the hospital.

Administrators at Sejong Hospital, the fire site, said one doctor, one nurse and one nurse's assistant were among the casualties.

The fire started at around 7:30 a.m.at the rear of the emergency room on the first floor.

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It would be the country's deadliest fire in nearly 10 years, and the death toll is likely to increase with numerous injured in serious condition.

"The truck came even before ambulances or firefighting trucks ... and lifted the ladder towards people screaming for help from the windows of the second and third floor", Kim said - an account confirmed by many other witnesses.

Choi said a total of 194 people were in two buildings.

In late December, 29 people were killed in a building fire in central Seoul, which was the country's deadliest blaze over the past decade before the hospital fire.

"The nurses were coughing heavily and their hands were bloody ... it looks like they were injured while helping people evacuate", she said, adding one male medical worker also rushed into the smoke-filled hospital with a fire extinguisher in a desperate bid to put out the raging fire.

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The official says the cause of the fire was under investigation. "Others said an electric spark occurred on the ceiling of the emergency room and then the fire spread quickly".

By yesterday afternoon, police had cordoned off the hospital as forensic investigators combed the smoke-blackened building.

Son Kyung-cheol, head of the foundation that operates the hospital, said in a televised briefing that the hospital did not have sprinklers as it was not required by law. Charred debris and glass littered the ground outside.

President Moon Jae-in expressed regret over the blaze at an emergency meeting. The death toll could rise in one of the country's deadliest fires in years.

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