A devastating fire has killed 29 people at a public sauna in South Korea, it has emerged.
The blaze spread through the eight-storey building in the central South Korean city of Jecheon after a car burst into flames in the basement.
Authorities say 29 were killed and 26 are injured after the sports centre and public bath went up in flames.
Dramatic images show people calling for help and flames shooting from the top of the building. One man jumped from a window to escape the inferno.
Inferno: A devastating fire has killed at least 29 people at a public sauna in South Korea, it has emerged
The blaze spread through the eight-storey building n the central South Korean city of Jecheon after a car caught fire in the basement
Authorities say 29 were killed and others more are injured when the sports centre and public bath went up in flames
Twenty victims were found at a public sauna and others elsewhere in the building that houses a fitness centre, public bath and restaurants, the National Fire Agency said.
‘The fire produced so much toxic smoke so quickly, leaving many people unable to evacuate,’ an agency spokesman said.
Many victims appeared to been unaware of the fire raging outside the bathhouse until it became impossible to flee, he added.
The death toll may rise further as firefighters continue to search the building, the spokesman said.
Rescue workers are searching the building for people after extinguishing the fire.
A toxic plume of black smoke could be seen up to 100 miles away, it has been reported.
Rescue workers are searching the building for people after extinguishing the in city, 104 miles away from Seoul, South Korea’s capital
Local media showed firefighters fighting the blaze with trucks and helicopters, and a man jumping from a window as firefighters held a mattress below.
The death toll may rise further as firefighters continue to search the building, an official said.
The building had several restaurants and leisure facilities, including a gym, public bath and an indoor golf practice facility.
Jecheon is southeast of the capital Seoul and is a popular with visitors to its mountains and lakes.
The disaster forced organisers of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to cancel a planned torch relay event at the city on Friday, Yonhap news agency said, citing the organisers.
‘We decided to cancel the event to mourn the victims,’ an unnamed official at the organising committee was quoted as saying.
The fire is South Korea’s worst since 2008 when a blaze at a warehouse in the city of Icheon killed 40 workers.
President Moon Jae-In expressed regret over the accident and urged officials to make ‘utmost efforts’ for rescue and search operations, his office said.
The worst fire ever to hit modern South Korea was an arson attack on a subway station in the southeastern city of Daegu that left 192 people dead and nearly 150 injured in 2003.