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(3rd LD) 56 injured in Lotte Chemical plant fire

All News 18:21 March 04, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES figure in headline, lead; 2nd para; ADDS more info at bottom)

SEOUL/SEOSAN, South Korea, March 4 (Yonhap) -- At least 56 people in the southern city of Seosan were injured Wednesday following an explosion at Lotte Chemical Corp.'s plant here.

The Seosan city government said company employees and residents were among the 56 injured as of 5 p.m., up from 36 injured reported in the morning.

The fire broke out following an explosion at 2:59 a.m. at the Lotte affiliate's plant in South Chungcheong Province, according to fire officials. No deaths have been reported so far.

The fire was mostly put out by 5:12 a.m., after more than 270 firefighters and 66 vehicles were mobilized in a major fire response.

Lotte Chemical said the explosion occurred while compressing naphtha, adding there was no risk of a toxic chemical leak or an additional explosion.

"We are investigating the exact cause based on the company's explanation that the explosion occurred during the compression process," a fire official said. The police have also set up a team to probe the case.

Lotte Chemical said it has suspended seven of its 13 facilities following the fire.

Sales from the Seosan plant account for 21.8 percent of Lotte Chemical's total sales, according to a regulatory filing. The company plans to post another regulatory filing once the scope of the damage is confirmed.

Later in the day, Lotte Chemical CEO Lim Byung-yun apologized during a news conference. He said the company is doing its best to clean up the scene and come up with compensation measures.

This photo, provided by a reader, shows a fire at Lotte Chemical Corp.'s plant in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province, on March 4, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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