South Korea construction fire kills 8; 17 presumed dead

South Korea construction fire kills 8; 17 more presumed dead

Gyeonggi Province Fire Services shows firefighters working at the scene of a fire at a warehouse in Icheon. - A fire at a warehouse in South Korea killed 25 people. (AFP Photo)

A fire broke out on a construction site near South Korea's capital on Wednesday, killing eight workers and leaving another 17 presumed dead.

Local fire official Oh Jung-hwan said the death toll could rise because more people were believed to be trapped inside the warehouse that was under construction in Icheon, just south of Seoul.

Oh said doctors had pronounced eight workers dead, while they had yet to formally declare the deaths of another 17 workers that firefighters say appeared to be dead.

Another 14 or the 70 workers at the site remained unaccounted for or out of contact, said Seo Seung-hyun, head of the Incheon fire department. A search of the site was ongoing.

Seo said it took more than 260 emergency workers several hours to put out the blaze.

Officials were investigating the cause of the fire, which was possibly triggered by an explosion while workers were working on an underground level at the site.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun instructed government officials and the national fire and police agencies to mobilize “all available equipment and personnel” to support the search and rescue operation.

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