Battery Factory Fire in South Korea Kills 22 Mostly Chinese Workers

Emergency personnel work at the site of a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Emergency personnel work at the site of a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
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Battery Factory Fire in South Korea Kills 22 Mostly Chinese Workers

Emergency personnel work at the site of a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Emergency personnel work at the site of a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji

A fire likely sparked by exploding lithium batteries swept through a manufacturing factory near South Korea’s capital on Monday, killing 22 mostly Chinese migrant workers and injuring eight, officials said.

The fire began after batteries exploded while workers were examining and packaging them at the second floor of the factory in Hwaseong city, a major industrial cluster about 90 minutes southwest of Seoul, at around 10:30 a.m., fire officials said, citing a witness. 

They said they would investigate the cause of the blaze.

The dead included 18 Chinese, two South Koreans and one Laotian, local fire official Kim Jin-young told a televised briefing. He said the nationality of one of the dead couldn't be immediately verified.

Kim also said one factory worker remained out of contact and rescuers continued to search the site. He said that two of the eight injured were in serious conditions.

The fire started at one of the factory buildings owned by a company named Aricell. Kim said the victims likely failed to escape via stairs to the ground. He said that authorities will investigate whether there were fire extinguishing systems at the site and if they worked.

Kim said a total of 102 people were working at the factory before the fire occurred.

President Yoon Suk Yeol was monitoring the situation, his office said, while Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, the country's No. 2 official, and Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min visited the site later Monday.

Han asked officials to provide government assistance for funeral services and support programs for victims' relatives, according to Han's office.

Established in 2020, Aricell makes lithium primary batteries for sensors and radio communication devices. It has 48 employees, according to its latest regulatory filing and its LinkedIn profile.



Bangladesh Extends Curfew ahead of Court Hearing on Controversial Job Quotas

18 July 2024, Bangladesh, Dhaka: People and police clash during a protest against the government's job quota system. Photo: Rubel Karmaker/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
18 July 2024, Bangladesh, Dhaka: People and police clash during a protest against the government's job quota system. Photo: Rubel Karmaker/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
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Bangladesh Extends Curfew ahead of Court Hearing on Controversial Job Quotas

18 July 2024, Bangladesh, Dhaka: People and police clash during a protest against the government's job quota system. Photo: Rubel Karmaker/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
18 July 2024, Bangladesh, Dhaka: People and police clash during a protest against the government's job quota system. Photo: Rubel Karmaker/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Bangladesh extended a curfew on Sunday to control violent student-led protests that have killed at least 114 people, as authorities braced for a Supreme Court hearing later in the day on government job quotas that sparked the anger.
Soldiers have been on patrol on the streets of capital Dhaka, the center of the demonstrations that spiraled into clashes between protesters and security forces, Reuters said.
Internet and text message services in Bangladesh have been suspended since Thursday, cutting the nation off as police cracked down on protesters who defied a ban on public gatherings.
A curfew ordered late on Friday has been extended to 3 p.m. (0900 GMT) on Sunday, until after the Supreme Court hearing, and will continue for an "uncertain time" following a two-hour break for people to gather supplies, local media reported.
Universities and colleges have also been closed since Wednesday.
Nationwide unrest broke out following student anger against quotas for government jobs that included reserving 30% for the families of those who fought for independence from Pakistan.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government had scrapped the quota system in 2018, but a court reinstated it last month.
The Supreme Court suspended the decision after a government appeal and will hear the case on Sunday after agreeing to bring forward a hearing scheduled for Aug. 7.
The demonstrations - the biggest since Hasina was re-elected for a fourth successive term this year - have also been fueled by high unemployment among young people, who make up nearly a fifth of the population.
The US State Department on Saturday raised its travel advisory for Bangladesh to level four, urging American citizens to not travel to the South Asian country.