South Korea hospital fire: '20 killed' as blaze sweeps through ward for elderly patients


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The Independent Online

At least 20 patients and a nurse have been killed after a fire swept through a hospital in South Korea.

Most of the patients who died at the hospital in Janseong county, south of the capital Seoul, were in their seventies and eighties, Yonhap news agency said, citing police and fire officials.

Around 30 bedridden patients were trapped by "choking fumes" on the second floor of an annex building, while 10 patients on the first floor managed to escape, the report said. One nurse was on duty at the time and was among the dead.

It was the second deadly blaze in South Korea in two days after seven people were killed and 41 injured in a fire at a bus terminal near Seoul on Monday. The incident also comes at a widespread time of mourning for South Korea after more than 300 people died in a ferry sinking last month.

An officer with the Jangseong Fire Department, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that most of the victims died after suffocating on poisonous gas.

The fire was put out after about seven minutes. Its cause was not immediately known.