SEOUL, South Korea — A fire at a hospital that doubled as a nursing home killed at least 31 people on Friday in the southern city of Miryang, local news media and fire officials said.
Officials said they were still investigating the cause of the fire that engulfed Sejong Hospital with flames and thick smoke. They said the fire erupted in the hospital’s main building. Firefighters and hospital workers evacuated patients from an annex that operated as a nursing home, carrying some of them on their backs.
Local television footage showed ambulances carrying patients from the hospital. At least 100 patients were believed to have been in the hospital building when the fire broke out, the Yonhap news agency reported, adding that the identities of those who died were not yet known.
President Moon Jae-in convened an emergency staff meeting to address the fire, Yonhap reported.
The fire in Miryang, about 170 miles southeast of Seoul, was the second major deadly fire in South Korea in recent weeks. Twenty-nine people were killed and 40 injured in a fire that gutted a sports center in the town of Jecheon, about 75 miles southeast of Seoul, in December. Most of the victims in that fire had become trapped in a public sauna on the second floor of the building, local news outlets reported.
The deadly fires hit the country as South Koreans remain traumatized over the sinking of the ferry Sewol in 2014, which killed more than 300 people, most of them teenagers on a school trip.