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(2nd LD) Warehouse fire kills at least 36 workers

All News 19:48 April 29, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more details throughout; ADDS photo)

ICHEON, South Korea, April 29 (Yonhap) -- At least 36 workers were killed and 10 others injured in a fire at a warehouse construction site in Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday, fire authorities said.

The fire occurred in Icheon, 80 kilometers southeast of Seoul, around 1:32 p.m., according to firefighters. The blaze was extinguished at around 6:42 p.m.

The number of casualties may increase as the whereabouts of the majority of 78 people believed to have been working at the time of fire are not confirmed.

Icheon is home to SK hynix Inc., the world's second-largest maker of DRAM chips, as well as a large number of warehouses and storage facilities for retailers.

Smoke billows from a warehouse construction site in the city of Icheon, southeast of Seoul, on April 29, 2020, where a fire broke out at around 1:32 p.m. the same day. (Yonhap)

Officials suspect that the fire was caused by an unexpected explosion during construction work involving urethane, a combustible chemical used for insulation work, and the installment of a freight elevator in the basement of the site.

"The fire seems to have spread extremely quickly, with the victims apparently having been unable to evacuate at all during the fire," firefighters said.

President Moon Jae-in ordered government officials to spare no effort for the search and rescue operation by mobilizing all available resources, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.

Fire fighters rescue an injured worker at the site of a fire that broke out at a warehouse construction site in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, on April 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

odissy@yna.co.kr
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