Published: Sun, January 28, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Hospital fire kills almost 40 people in South Korea

Hospital fire kills almost 40 people in South Korea

A huge fire tore through a South Korean hospital on January 26, killing at least 37 people, the government said, in the country's worst blaze for a decade. The blaze is thought to have started in the emergency room at Sejong Hospital in the south-eastern city of Miryang, BBC reported.

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. Three hospital medical staff - a doctor, nurse and nursing assistant - are among the victims.

At least 177 patients - majority elderly - were at the main building of the hospital and the adjacent nursing home when the fire broke out, hospital director Song Byeong Cheol told reporters.

Local health official Cheon Jae-kyung says 10 others are in critical condition from Friday's fire at Sejong Hospital in the southeastern city of Miryang. The hospital was built to government standards, with fire exits and extinguishers, many of which were used during the fire, Dr Song added.

More than 70 people were also injured in the second devastating blaze in just a month in one of Asia's most advanced countries and its fourth-largest economy.

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Most of the victims were on the first and second floors of the hospital's six-story general ward, where its emergency room and intensive-care unit were located.

Details of the fire including its cause were unknown.

Choi said a total of 194 people were in two buildings. He added that the hospital had regular safety inspections. Agency officials said the death toll could increase. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to media.

President Moon Jae-in held an emergency meeting with senior advisers and ordered officials to provide necessary medical treatment to those rescued, find the exact cause of the fire and work out measures to prevent future fires, spokesman Park Su-hyun said. Firefighters and hospital workers evacuated patients from an annexe that operated as a nursing home, carrying some of them on their backs.

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.

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