Dozens killed in fire at South Korean hospital

Otis Hoffman
January 28, 2018

At least 37 people are dead and more than 140 injured after a fire broke out early Friday morning in the first floor emergency room of Sejong Hospital in Miryang.

Many patients reportedly walked through flames and thick smoke to escape the first-floor blaze.

"Sejong Hospital is located right in front of my house", said an Instagram user.

Rescue workers are pictured searching through a scorched, smoke-filled hospital in Miryang, South Korea. Its cause was not immediately known, reported the South Korea-based Yonhap news agency.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened an emergency meeting with his senior secretaries, ordering a thorough response to the blaze.

About 200 patients were inside the building and an adjoining nursing home at the time.

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

Authorities have yet to determine a cause, however, local media reports say there may not have been fire sprinklers in the building, which could have prevented further damage and casualties.

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The hospital's operations were suspended after the fire.

Interior Minister Kim Boo-kyum travelled to Miryang to apologise for the fire. Eyewitnesses have since said that the fire broke out in the emergency room at about 7:30 a.m. and quickly spread to other parts of the hospital.

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

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