South Korean Hospital Engulfed by Deadly Blaze
The families of the 37 people killed by a hospital blazed expressed anger and loss at a city gymnasium where a joint memorial altar was held on Saturday.
Anguished relatives were sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at government officials who came to pay their respects at the memorial altar.
Scenes of despair were witnessed at the city gymnasium.
“My mother! Bring my mother back to life!” a young woman cried in front of the altar bearing a row of portraits of the victims and their name plaques surrounded by hundreds of white chrysanthemums.
“My poor mother can never come back no matter what you say!” she shouted at visiting officials before collapsing on the floor.
The fire started around 07:30 local time (22:30 GMT on Thursday) and was put out in about three hours. More than 70 were also injured in the fire that rattled residents of the sleepy city of Miryang, South Korea.
Deadliest Fire In Miryang
Media reports say the blaze started in the emergency room at Sejong Hospital which specialised in caring for elderly people with long-term needs, as well as other patients. Around 200 patients were inside the building and an adjoining nursing home at the time the fire broke out.
Most of the victims died from smoke inhalation. Most of the victims were too ill and too old to escape. The victims also included three hospital medical staff – a doctor, nurse and nursing assistant.
The hospital has been operating since 2008 and had about 35 medical staff.
No Water Sprinklers and Smoke Alarm Systems
Local authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire. But some of the family of distraught victims blamed the hospital for not having any fire sprinkler or smoke-control-systems. The hospital did not have any of these fire safety devices as it was not large enough to be required to install them under local safety rules.
Saddened by the tragedy, South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the altar Saturday to console the bereaved families of the victims and vowed to improve safety regulations after inspecting the gutted hospital.
The fire comes just a month after 29 people were killed in the South Korean city of Jecheon, in a blaze at a public gym.