Seoul: The number of deaths from a large fire in a South Korean hospital in Miryang southeast of Seoul jumped to 41, Yonhap news agency reported on Friday.
More than 70 were also injured in the fire, which erupted Friday morning on the first floor of a six-storey building housing a hospital and a nursing home, firefighters said.
Local fire station officials said the situation was developing quickly and the number of deaths is expected to continue climbing.
Video footage and pictures showed a helicopter flying above the building in Miryang, engulfed by heavy grey smoke and surrounded by multiple fire trucks.
“Two nurses said they had seen fire suddenly erupting in the emergency room,” said fire chief Choi Man-Woo, but the cause of the blaze was not immediately known.
All the patients had been evacuated from the hospital and a nursing home in the same building, he added.
“The victims came both from the hospital and the nursing home. Some died on their way to another hospital.”
Around 200 people were in the Sejong Hospital building when the fire broke out, police said.
The fire came only a month after 29 people were killed in an inferno at a fitness club in the South Korean city of Jecheon — a disaster blamed on insufficient emergency exits, flammable finishing materials and illegally parked cars blocking access to emergency vehicles.