South Korea building fire leaves 29 dead, 29 injured

South Korea At least 29 killed 20 hospitalised as fire breaks out in eight-storey building

The fire broke out around 4pm local time (5pm Singapore) and quickly engulfed the entire eight-storey building, leaving many trapped inside. Many victims appeared to have been unaware of the fire raging outside the bathhouse until it became impossible to flee, he added. The building had several restaurants and leisure facilities, including a gym, public bath and an indoor golf practice facility, the official said.

The South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, expressed deep sorrow over the incident and urged officials to make "utmost efforts" to rescue any survivors, his office said.

He said numerous people who died had been using a public bath on the second and third floors, which made it harder for them to escape. One man jumped from a window to escape the inferno and plunged down onto an air mattress put in place by fire crews.

An estimated 60 firefighters battled the fire Thursday and local media showed trucks and helicopters also on the scene.

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Officials said rescue workers were searching the building for people after extinguishing the fire.

And in a harrowing sequence, a man who had been clinging to a ledge was seen jumping from the building.

The fire is suspected to have started in a parked vehicle in the ground floor of the building and then spread to the whole structure, the official said.

Jecheon is located in North Chungcheong Province, about 30 kilometers southwest of Pyeongchang, where the 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in February.

Jecheon is about 170 kilometers southeast of South Korea's capital, Seoul. "We made a decision to cancel the event to mourn the victims", an official at the organising committee told the Yonhap news agency.

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