Hospital fire kills more than 30 people in South Korea

  • Firefighters work as smoke billows from a hospital in Miryang, South Korea, Friday. (National Fire Agency /Yonhap via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea — A fire swept through a hospital in southeastern South Korea on Friday, killing more than 30 people and injuring dozens in one of the country’s most deadly fires in recent years.

Fire official Choi Man-wu said in a televised briefing that the fire at Sejong Hospital in the city of Miryang killed 31 people and injured 77, eight of them in critical condition.

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The fire started from the first floor of the hospital at 7:35 a.m. and was extinguished at 10:26 a.m., Choi said. The cause of the fire is under investigation

He said a total of 194 people had been hospitalized in two buildings of Sejong Hospital, including 94 elderly people who were hospitalized in the nursing hospital, before the fire broke out.

Sejong Hospital has a nursing hospital for the elderly and also offers regular medical services.

South Korea is one of the fastest-aging countries in the world and has many nursing hospitals, which are preferred for elderly people who long-term doctors’ care.

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Yonhap news agency says the hospital has 193 beds including 98 beds for the elderly who needs nursing care with 35 medical staff.

In late December, 29 people were killed in a fire that tore through an eight-floor building in the city of Jecheon in central Seoul. It was the country’s deadliest blaze over the past decade before the hospital fire.