World

Wiring suspected cause of S. Korea fire

Defective wiring is suspected to have caused the deadly South Korean hospital fire that killed dozens and injured more than 150, the police said, as public anger swelled over the country's worst fire disaster in a decade.

The huge blaze that erupted at the hospital in the south-eastern city of Miryang on Friday killed at least 38 people - 35 patients and three medical staff. It came only a month after 29 people were killed in an inferno at a fitness club in Jecheon.

The authorities are still investigating the exact cause of the hospital fire but preliminary inspection has suggested possible defects in the wiring in the first-floor ceiling of what used to be an office pantry.

"There were no traces of burns on the floor but clear signs of fire spreading toward the bottom from the top," an official said on Saturday evening.

All the wires will be collected from the ceiling for a detailed analysis, a process that may take more than two weeks.

The hospital did not have sprinklers as it was not large enough to be required to install them under local safety rules.

A memorial was set up at a city gymnasium for the victims, and more than 3,300 people had come to pay their respects there as of early yesterday.

President Moon Jae In visited the memorial and promised to improve safety regulations. - AFP