South Korea hospital fire claims 33 lives, many seriously injured

South Korea hospital fire: Death toll rises to 31 (UPDATED)

15 killed, dozens injured in South Korean hospital blaze

At least 31 people died in a fire at a hospital in southeast South Korea's Miryang city on Friday, local news agency Yonhap reported.

Scores of others were also injured when the blaze engulfed major sections of the Sejong Hospital in the southeastern city of Miryang early on Friday, 26 January. The fire started at around 7:30 AM (2230 GMT) in of the emergency rooms of Sejong Hospital in South Korea. Most of the deaths were due to smoke inhalation.

Hospital director Song Byeong-cheol said the six-storey hospital did not have a sprinkler system and was not large enough to require one under the law.

"My father works at Sejong Hospital's funeral hall", said a Twitter user. The blaze was was extinguished after one hour and 40 minutes, Yonhap said.

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Details of the blaze including its cause are still unknown.

After Friday's fire, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called an emergency staff meeting.

Smoke rises from a burning hospital in Miryang, South Korea.

The hospital evacuated 22 people, mostly patients to nearby hospitals and 78 patients from the nursing home - which adjoined the main building - and caught fire also escaped the area, according to authorities.

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He noted how the five-story hospital doubles as a nursing facility, and numerous deceased included elderly patients who lived there.

Minister of Interior and Safety Kim Boo-kyum headed to the southern city at around 9 a.m.to oversee the response measures. An investigation is underway to trace the reason for the fire.

In December, 29 people were killed in a fire at a sports center in the town of Jecheon.

A 2014 fire at a rural hospital for chronically-ill elderly patients killed 21 people.

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