8 Chinese dead, 17 injured in S. Korea fire

Updated: 2007-02-11 11:11

SEOUL -- At least eight Chinese citizens were confirmed to be killed in a fire occurring at a detention facility in Yeosu, 450 km south of Seoul, Sunday morning, the Chinese Embassy in Seoul confirmed.

"The death toll of Chinese victims has risen to eight and there might be more as some injured Chinese citizens are in critical condition," said Zhao Dengyu,a consul of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul.

"The police told us that 9 foreigners, including 8 Chinese, were killed in the accident," Zhao, who is now dealing with the incident in Yeosu, told Xinhua.

"According to the list provided by local hospitals, 17 injured Chinese people are receiving medical treatment in hospitals, " he said.

According to local media, a fire broke out at 3:55 a.m. (1855 GMT, Saturday) Sunday morning in a four-story immigration detention facility in Yeosu where 55 foreigners were detained then. At least nine foreigners were killed in the accident.

The Chinese Embassy has sent two diplomats to Yeosu and asked the South Korean government to cooperate in dealing with the victims.

The police said most of the victims are believed to have been killed by smoke inhalation in the blaze and the death toll is expected to increase as some of the injured are in critical condition.

Following the accident, South Korean Prime Minister Han Myong- soo ordered the Justice Ministry to conduct an in-depth investigation into the incident and expressed her regrets to foreign victims. She demanded the authorities to review the detention systems for foreigners and prevent similar accidents, the Office of the Prime Minister said.

The exact cause of the blaze is still under investigation, the police said.

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