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A Dozen of Chinese Nationals Confirmed Dead in S. Korea's Battery Plant Fire

By Xinhua|Jun 25,2024

This photo taken on June 24, 2024 shows the battery plant fire site in Hwaseong, South Korea. (Photo/Xinhua)

Seoul - A dozen of Chinese nationals were confirmed dead in South Korea's battery plant fire on Monday, according to the Chinese embassy in South Korea.

The embassy said in a statement that the South Korean side preliminarily confirmed that a dozen of Chinese people unfortunately died from the fire accident and it had yet to confirm the detailed death toll.

After recognizing the accident, the embassy contacted the South Korean police and the fire authorities to confirm the possible death of Chinese people while immediately launching an emergency operation system.

Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming contacted the governor of Gyeonggi province, in which the fire accident occurred, to call for the rescue and treatment of the Chinese people as much as possible.

According to the Chinese embassy, Xing will visit the site of the fire personally.

A total of 22 people were confirmed dead and eight others injured after the fire broke out at a primary battery plant in Hwaseong, some 45 km south of the capital Seoul, at about 10:31 a.m. local time (0131 GMT).

Kim Jin-young, a local fire station official, said in a televised briefing that rescue workers retrieved the bodies of the 21 missing factory workers who had failed to be reached after the fire outbreak.

The victims were believed to have failed to escape through stairs to the ground.

Ahead of the search operation inside the ill-fated plant, one worker died after having been found in cardiac arrest.

Of the total dead were 20 foreigners, the fire official said at the briefing.

Two others were seriously wounded, while six suffered minor injuries such as smoke inhalation.

One worker remained unaccounted for, but it was not clear whether the worker had been trapped inside the factory or simply not reached, according to the fire official.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol visited the fire accident site later in the day, offering his condolences to the victims and the bereaved families, the presidential office said.

Yoon instructed the chief of the fire authorities to thoroughly determine the cause of the fire, ordering government officials to come up with comprehensive measures to early extinguish the fires, which are sparked by chemicals and hard to put out with the existing fire extinguishers or hydrants.

The president ordered the interior minister to check the safety of chemical plants and draw up measures to prevent the recurrence of similar accidents.

Firefighters struggled to extinguish the fire because of the difficulty in putting out the flame of lithium batteries.

They went inside the factory and searched the bodies after extinguishing a large blaze at about 3:10 p.m. local time (0610 GMT).

Some 35,000 lithium batteries were estimated to be stored on the second floor of the three-story reinforced concrete factory with a total floor area of 2,300 square meters or so.


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