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(LEAD) At least seven killed, 20 injured in bus terminal fire

All Headlines 11:28 May 26, 2014

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GOYANG, South Korea, May 26 (Yonhap) -- At least seven people were killed and 20 others injured in a fire at a local bus terminal on Monday, firefighters and hospital officials said.

The blaze occurred about 9:10 a.m. at an underground construction site of the Goyang Bus Terminal in Goyang, just northwest of Seoul, firefighters said. The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes.

The injured were taken to nearby hospitals for smoke inhalation, officials said, adding that up to 2 people are in critical condition.

The bodies of the victims were found at the construction site of a food court located on the first basement level of the building, the firefighters said, adding that their identities have not yet been confirmed.

The fire, which sent black smoke billowing into the sky, caused a rush-hour traffic jam around the area.

Firefighting authorities said they suspect the fire was started by sparks from welding work.

The bus terminal has several bus bays that can station 250 buses and a multiplex composed of a supermarket and a movie theater.

The fire came as the country is grappling with the aftermath of last month's ferry sinking that has left more than 300 people dead or missing, and revealed the nation's lax safety standards and poor disaster response system.

A week ago, President Park Geun-hye offered a fresh apology for the government's poor response to the tragedy, vowing sweeping reforms to make South Korea a safer nation to live in, including dismantling the Coast Guard and creating a new safety agency.

<YNAPHOTO path='C:/YNA/YNACLI~1/Down/Article/AEN20140526002851315_01_i.jpg' id='' title='' caption='A fire at the Goyang Bus Terminal in Goyang, just northwest of Seoul, kills at least five people on May 25, 2014. (Yonhap) '/>

khj@yna.co.kr
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