Fire kills 55 trapped in Korean karaoke club

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The Independent Online
SOUTH KOREA'S worst fire in 25 years struck a crowd of teenagers partying on Saturday night in an unlicensed beer bar so crowded that one waitress said she could hardly move around the tables.

The only exit from the dimly lit bar was a stairway barely one metre wide. There were no fire alarms or sprinklers in the bar in Inchon, a port city 50km (30 miles) west of Seoul.

The death toll was 55 yesterday, but doctors feared that the number could rise, with some of the 74 injured in critical condition. The police arrested five people on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

According to the police, two young workers were using paint-thinner to clean the floor of a freshly painted karaoke club in the basement, when one of them accidentally broke a light, causing a spark that set off the blaze.

The police were searching for the bar owner, who ran away after the fire. (AP)