Suspected Arson Fire Kills at Least 7 in South Korea

SEOUL — At least seven people were killed and dozens of others injured after an explosion ignited a fire on Thursday at the office of a law firm in the southern city of Daegu, South Korea, according to the police.

The police said the blaze was being investigated as arson, and after a review of security camera footage, a man in his 50s was identified as a suspect. The man is believed to have died at the site, the police said. He was not immediately identified.

No information about a potential motive was immediately released, but local news outlets reported that the police were investigating whether the fire had been started by a disgruntled client over a case.

The fire broke out at about 10:55 a.m. on the second floor of a seven-story office building next to Daegu District Court, according to an officer with the police department in Daegu, a city of 2.4 million. The authorities said they had received reports of a loud explosion and black smoke coming from the law firm’s offices, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Nearly 60 fire trucks and about 150 firefighters were deployed to the site, and they extinguished the fire in about 20 minutes. Firefighters rescued about 40 people from the building, officials said. All seven bodies were found on the same floor, according to the Daegu Fire Department.

At a news briefing Thursday afternoon, the police said that the five men and two women who had died were identified, but no names were released. The building had sprinklers only in the basement and not on the other floors, Fire Department officials said at the same news conference.

South Korea has had a number of high-profile fires in recent years, some of which have been linked to lax safety standards.

In April 2020, a fire at a warehouse in Icheon, southeast of Seoul, killed 38 workers. In 2018, a blaze at a hospital that also served as a nursing home in the southern city of Miryang killed 37. A fire tore through an eight-story building in the city of Jecheon in 2017, leaving at least 29 people dead. Most of those killed had been trapped in a public sauna on the second floor of the building, the authorities said.

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