A fire at a hospital annex housing elderly patients in the south-western county of Jangseong killed 21 people early on Wednesday, South Korean officials said.
The fire broke out on the second floor of a three-story facility in Jangseong county, where most of the patients were in their 70s or 80s and bedridden.
Lee Min-ho, the chief of Damyang Fire Station near the hospital, said six of the victims are in critical condition.
"We transported 28 patients, and the total number of dead is 21. There are six who were heavily damaged, and one lightly damaged. There were 34 people in total [on the floor]. 26 of them were identified, and two of them are still being identified," said Lee.
Officials say many of the victims died of suffocation after inhaling toxic fumes. A nurse was reported among the dead.
The hospital\’s administrator, Lee Yung-seok appeared before reporters, bowing deeply and apologizing for the disaster.
The fire comes as South Koreans continue to mourn an April 16 ferry disaster that killed 300 people, mostly high school students.