Deadly hospital fire in ROK kills 37, injures more than 140

World Today

South Korea Hospital Fire Firefighters inspect a burnt hospital after a fire in Miryang, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. A fire spread flames and smoke through a South Korean hospital Friday morning, killing dozens of people, mainly from suffocation, and injuring nearly 130 others in one of the country’s deadliest blazes in years. The dead included three hospital staff and several people in an intensive-care unit for respiratory illnesses. (Jeon Mincheol/Kookje Shinmun via AP)

Loss and heartbreak in southeastern Republic of Korea, after a deadly hospital fire. Thirty-seven people were killed, including three medical staff.

The facility had no sprinkler system, and the mayor of Miryang is now apologizing.

CGTN’s Shane Hahm has more.

Calls of a fire at the local hospital first came in at about 7:30 Friday morning. Within minutes, firefighters in Miryang, South Korea arrived on the scene to find smoke billowing throughout the building. They were able to contain the blaze within a few hours, but by them the damage had already been done.

“We prevented the fire from spreading to the second floor in the early stages so that we could secure second, third, fourth and fifth floor,” said Miryang fire department spokesman Choi Man-Woo.

Investigators believe the fire began on the first floor, near the hospital’s emergency room.  Many in the building’s main ward succumbed to the flames, but patients in the adjacent nursing home were evacuated in time. 

“I climbed up to my roof and then I saw the fire,” said nearby resident Cho Mee-Ae. “I got dressed and came out outside, where I saw grandmothers in wheelchairs wrapped in blankets being put into ambulances.”

Miryang is a city of about 100,000 and is known for its natural mountainous landscape. But now officials are left to explain how such a disaster occurred in this quaint, peaceful town.

“I deeply apologize for the tragedy which occurred at Sejong hospital in Miryang,” said Miryang Mayor Park Il-ho. “I would like to express my deep condolences to the victims and their family.”

Investigations into the exact cause of the fire will continue tomorrow as soon as day breaks. Meanwhile, the city of Miryang will be setting up a joint memorial altar for people to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in this tragedy.