At least 7 dead in explosion and fire in South Korea’s Daegu

SEOUL — At least seven people have been killed and dozens more injured after an explosion that set a fire on Thursday at the office of a law firm in South Korea’s southern city of Daegu, police said.

Police said the fire was being investigated as arson, and a 50-year-old man was identified as a suspect after examining CCTV footage. The man died on the spot, police said. He was not immediately identified.

No information about a possible motive was immediately released, but local news outlets reported that police were investigating whether the fire was 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 a police officer in Daegu, about 170 miles from Seoul, the capital. Authorities said they had received reports of a loud explosion and black smoke from the law firm’s offices, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Nearly 60 fire trucks and about 150 firefighters were deployed to the scene and they had the fire extinguished in about 20 minutes. The fire service rescued about 40 people from the building, authorities said. All seven bodies were found on the same floor, the Daegu fire service said.

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, 37 people died in a fire at a hospital that also served as a nursing home in the southern city of Miryang. A fire tore through an eight-story building in the city of Jecheon in 2017, killing at least 29 people. Most of the dead were trapped in a public sauna on the second floor of the building, authorities said.

In 1995, gas leaks at Daegu construction sites caused explosions and flames that killed at least 100 people, many of them teenagers.

Jin Yu Young and John Yoon reported from Seoul, and Tiffany May From Hong Kong.

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