Published: Sat, December 23, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

At least 28 killed in South Korea building fire

At least 28 killed in South Korea building fire

The building also contains several restaurants, a swimming pool and an indoor golf facility.

"The fire produced so much toxic smoke so quickly, leaving many people unable to evacuate", an agency spokesman said. Many victims appeared to been unaware of the fire raging outside the bathhouse until it became impossible for them to escape, he added.

Local news channel YTN said President Moon Jae-in voiced deep sorrow for so many deaths while Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon vowed to expedite rescue efforts to try to minimise the number of dead and injured.

Media showed the building engulfed in fierce flames and black plumes of smoke. One man jumped from a window to escape the inferno and plunged down onto an air mattress put in place by fire crews.

And in a harrowing sequence, a man who had been clinging to a ledge was seen jumping from the building.

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It was unclear what caused the fire but it likely began at the building's parking lot, according to fire officials.

A Jecheon fire department official said the toll could rise as rescuers continue to search the building after putting out the fire. The blaze has nearly been extinguished, leaving firefighters the task of searching for any more victims. Thirteen bodies were unrecognisable.

Dozens more were injured as the blaze spread from the underground vehicle park in the town of Jecheon, 75 miles southeast of the capital, Seoul.

Jecheon is located in North Chungcheong Province, about 30 kilometers southwest of Pyeongchang, where the 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in February.

'We chose to cancel the event to mourn the victims, ' an unnamed official at the organising committee was quoted as saying.

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