Shopping mall fire kills five in latest South Korean accident

By Kahyun Yang, Reuters

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Firefighters said they suspected the fire was started by sparks from underground welding work. Photo credit: AFP Firefighters said they suspected the fire was started by sparks from underground welding work. Photo credit: AFP
A fire at a bus terminal and shopping complex in a busy suburban neighbourhood north of Seoul killed five people and injured dozens on Monday, the latest in a series of accidents in South Korea, including a ferry disaster that killed more than 300.
The blaze broke out in the morning in the terminal complex that houses large shopping malls and a movie theatre.
Fire officials said the fire started in the food court area where renovation was being carried out and a welding torch was likely responsible. Most of victims suffered from smoke inhalation, they said.
South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy and a leading manufacturing powerhouse, has developed into one of the world's most vibrant and technically advanced democracies, but faces criticism that regulatory controls and safety standards have not kept pace.
The country is mourning more than 300 people who drowned when a heavily overloaded ferry capsized and sank on April 16, the country's worst maritime disaster in 20 years.
Many of the dead were students and teachers from the same school.
There have since been two subway accidents that left nearly 200 people injured.
President Park Geun-hye and her government have faced sharp criticism of the way they handled the ferry disaster. Park has promised to overhaul safety oversight and has broke up the country's coast guard to streamline maritime search and rescue operations.

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