The deadly hospital blaze in Miryang killed 37 people and injured more than 100 in South Korea's worst fire disaster in a decade.
The fire started at around 7:30 a.m.at the rear of the emergency room on the first floor of Sejong Hospital and was mostly extinguished after a few hours, Choi Man-woo, the head of Miryang city's fire station, told a televised media briefing.
It would be the country's deadliest fire in nearly 10 years, and the death toll is likely to increase with numerous injured in serious condition. The hospital has 193 beds including 98 beds for the elderly who needs nursing care with 35 medical staff, according to Yonhap news agency.
All the patients had been evacuated from the hospital and a nursing home in the same building and the people evacuated are being treated at four other hospitals nearby.
Local health official Cheon Jae-kyung says 10 others are in critical condition from Friday's fire at Sejong Hospital in the southeastern city of Miryang. "Many of them suffered from respiratory disorders, which could have made them especially susceptible to the fire".More news: Korea fears above "comfort women" row to attend Olympics
At least seven people were critically injured.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called an emergency meeting with advisers and demanded an immediate probe into the cause of the blaze.
Details of the fire including its cause were unknown.
Most of the victims were on the first and second floors of the hospital's six-story general ward, where its emergency room and intensive-care unit were located.
If safety issues were involved in the fire, hospital and local authorities are likely to receive harsh public criticism.More news: Dutch intelligence 'infiltrated Russian group that hacked US Democratic party'
Hospital director Song Byeong-cheol said the hospital did not have a sprinkler system and was not large enough to require one under South Korean law. Authorities have given varying death tolls, with police earlier saying 41 had died. He added that the hospital had regular safety inspections.
37 killed in South Korea hospital fire: A deadly fire raged through a hospital in South Korea yesterday.
The deadly incident comes less than a month after another fire that killed 29 people in the city of Jecheon.
In 2014, a fire set by an 81-year-old dementia patient killed 21 at another hospital for the elderly.More news: Brendon McCullum bought by Daniel Vettori's team at Indian Premier League auction
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