Fire at South Korea warehouse kills 38

Smoke rising from a warehouse fire in Icheon, South Korea, on April 29, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - A fire at a warehouse in South Korea killed 38 people and left another 10 injured on Wednesday (April 29), according to reports.

The blaze at the unfinished four-storey building in Icheon, 80km south-east of Seoul, spread "extremely quickly" and rendered those inside "unable to evacuate", South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported citing fire officials.

Eight of the injured are in a serious condition, local officials said.

Suh Seung-hyun, chief of the Icheon fire station, told Yonhap that oil droplets may have ignited to start the blaze, but police and firefighters are investigating the exact cause of the accident.

Witnesses said they heard at least 10 explosions, the news agency said.

President Moon Jae-in ordered government officials to mobilise all available resources in the search and rescue effort, Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok said.

Moon hosted an emergency meeting and ordered medical support for the injured, Yonhap said.

The president also voiced regret that another massive blaze had occurred in spite of new government safety measures following fatal fires in 2017 and 2018.

"It is regrettable that a similar accident reoccurred. It means we've not learned the lesson from previous accidents," Moon was quoted as saying by Kang.

In December 2017, a fire at a sports centre in the central city of Jecheon killed 29 people and wounded 40 others.

One month later, a hospital fire occurred in the southeastern city of Miryang, killing 45 people and injuring 147 others.

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