May.28 - A fire at a rural South Korean hospital for chronically ill elderly patients kills 21 people and injures eight in the country's second major fire this week.Sarah Toms reports.
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A midnight blaze ripped through this hospital in a rural area of south western Korea.
The fire in Janseong county was put out relatively quickly and rescue workers moved speedily to treat victims of the fire.
Still at least 21 patients and a nurse were killed.
Most of the victims were elderly patients, confined to their beds.
(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) CHIEF OF DAMYANG FIRE STATION, LEE MIN-HO, SAYING:
"All of them (the victims) were the bedridden patients who were unable to escape by themselves. So despite the hospital's initial rescue efforts, many people were sacrificed."
All of the victims were on the second floor of one building and most of them suffered from smoke inhalation.
An 81-year-old man is in police custody. He is being questioned on suspicion of arson after he was seen on surveillance camera walking into this empty room where the fire is believed to have started.
The man has been identified as a patient at the hospital and is suffering from dementia.
The latest disaster comes at a time of mourning for South Korea after more than 300 people died in a ferry sinking last month.
It also comes a day after a fire killed seven people at a bus terminal.
And the country faces criticism that regulatory controls and safety standards have not kept pace with its rapid development in manufacturing and technology.
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