SEOUL – A fire in a hostel in downtown Seoul left at least 7 dead and 11 injured on Friday, local authorities said.
The fire was detected at around 5:00 am local time (2000 GMT Thursday) in a building located in the central district of Jongno and was extinguished about two hours later, according to the Yonhap news agency, citing the fire department in the South Korean capital.
Firefighters said they could not rule out an increase in number of deaths and said that the fire started on the third floor of the building.
This establishment is known in South Korea as “goshiwon,” a business that rents out tiny rooms at reasonable prices.
The hostels are medium- and long-term accommodation for people such as students, workers on the minimum wage or day laborers in sectors like construction.
At the time of the fire, there were about 50 tenants in the hostel, according to police and firefighters, who said that the identified victims were between 40 and 60 years old.
The building, about 40 years old, did not have sprinklers, although it did have smoke detectors in each room, as well as an emergency exit.
Both the police and the firefighters have opened an investigation to determine the cause of the fire and whether the smoke detectors worked properly.
Last year, a fire in a South Korean hospital and another in a gym left 69 people dead.
In both cases, violations of fire safety rules were identified, which led the South Korean government to say it would reinforce prevention and safety measures at the national level to avoid similar incidents.