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(LEAD) Tower block fire sends 88 to hospital; no deaths reported

National 10:47 October 09, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 4 paras, photos)

SEOUL/ULSAN, South Korea, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- Firefighters struggled to completely put out a fire at a high-rise apartment building in the southeastern city of Ulsan Friday after at least 88 people were sent to hospitals for smoke inhalation.

The blaze broke out at around 11:07 p.m. Thursday at the 33-story Samhwan Art Nouveau commercial and residential building in Ulsan, and flames spread by strong winds to engulf the entire building at one point, sending hundreds of people to evacuate.

Smoke and flames are seen at a 33-story apartment building in South Korea's southern city of Ulsan on Oct. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

The fire was brought under control about two hours later but has not been extinguished completely as of Friday morning, with embers flaring up again due to strong winds.

At least 88 people were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment for smoke inhalation, but no deaths were reported, officials said.

Firefighters continued searching for anyone who might be inside.

The fire is presumed to have broken out on the 12th floor of the building, which houses more than 120 households and shopping units, and investigation is under way to find what caused the fire, according to the officials.

Witnesses said that the exterior walls of the building, possibly insulation, appear to have caused the fire to spread quickly.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for mobilizing all resources available to put out the fire and ensure the safety of the people, and Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young visited the scene to check responses.

A 33-story apartment building in South Korea's southern city of Ulsan is engulfed in fire on Oct. 8, 2020, in this photo provided by a witness. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Debris from a 33-story apartment building in Ulsan is scattered on nearby streets on Oct. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)
Smoke and flames are seen at a 33-story apartment building in South Korea's southern city of Ulsan on Oct. 9, 2020, in this photo provided by the Ulsan Fire Department. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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