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Scores of Victims in South Korea Hospital Fire

Scores of Victims in South Korea Hospital Fire

Friday, 26 January, 2018 - 06:00
Heavy grey smoke rises into the air from a fire at a hospital building in Miryang on January 26, 2018. YONHAP / AFP

A huge fire tore through a South Korean hospital Friday killing at least 41 people and injuring more than 80 others, the government said, in the country's worst blaze for 15 years.

Videos posted on social media showed a patient hanging on to a rope dangling from a helicopter above the Sejong hospital in Miryang, in the far south, and another crawling out of a window to climb down a ladder.

Miryang is about 270 km southeast of the capital, Seoul.

The six-story structure housed a nursing home as well as the hospital.

The death toll rose rapidly throughout the morning, as those initially pulled from the blaze succumbed to their injuries.

By lunchtime, it had hit 41, according to the presidential Blue House.

"Two nurses said they had seen fire suddenly erupting in the emergency room," said fire chief Choi Man-Woo.

All the patients had been brought out, he said, adding that evacuating 15 sick people from the intensive care unit on the third floor took longer as firefighters had to wait for medical staff to supervise the process.

All those who died were in the hospital, he said.

"Many victims were from the first and second floors of the hospital... some died on their way to another hospital," he said.

Around 200 people were in the hospital when the fire erupted, police said.

Friday's accident is South Korea's worst fire disaster since 2003, when an arson attack on a subway station in the southeastern city of Daegu killed 192 people.

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