Fire at hospital kills 37, injures scores in South Korea

Fire at hospital kills 37, injures scores in South Korea

At least 37 people have been killed and about 130 injured in a fire at a hospital in South Korea.

The fire is believed to have started in the emergency room at Sejong Hospital in the south-eastern city of Miryang.

A fire in a South Korean hospital killed 31 people and injured more than 70, a fire station official said on Friday, with eight of those injured listed as being in critical condition. All the hospital victims died from smoke inhalation.

At least 177 patients - a lot of them 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. The National Fire Agency said officials were trying to identify other victims.

Fire official Choi Man-wu said authorities were investigating whether the hospital had missed any mandatory safety inspections, although Son said it had not.

A witness, who only gave her surname Kim, said a man driving a moving truck with a long metal ladder arrived at the scene to rescue many people before the toxic smoke filled the building.

A National Fire Agency official said numerous deaths were confirmed after the victims were taken to nearby hospitals while being put on artificial ventilators.

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The cause of the blaze is unknown.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened an emergency meeting and ordered a thorough response to the blaze.

The cause of the fire wasn't immediately known.

The six-story hospital did not have a sprinkler system and did not require one under the law.

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

An official at the National Fire Agency says the death toll is expected to rise from the fire at Sejong Hospital early Friday. Sejong Hospital has a nursing home for the elderly and also offers regular medical services. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to media. The nursing home and hospital between them have about 200 beds.

The fire came only a month after 29 people were killed in an inferno at a fitness club in the southern city of Jecheon - a disaster blamed on insufficient emergency exits, flammable finishing materials and illegally parked cars blocking access to emergency vehicles.

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