Investigators on Thursday raided a hospital for the elderly in Jangseong, South Jeolla Province, where a fire took the lives of 21 people and injured eight others on Wednesday.
According to police, 10 investigators confiscated a variety of documents related to medical records and fire safety procedures, while an 81-year-old patient with senile dementia has been taken into custody on suspicion of setting the fire.
The Jeonnam Provincial Police Agency said it would summon the hospital’s senior officials after reviewing the seized records including internal manuals for emergencies.
“In addition, we will look into the management’s operating practices since the hospital’s establishment in 2007,” the agency said. “We will also review the initial countermeasures against fire and interior conditions of the hospital wards right before the accident.”
The majority of patients at the hospital were aged over 70 and bedridden due to Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other illnesses.
The 21 victims included 20 patients and an auxiliary nurse in her 50s who was on duty during the incident. The nurse was found to have attempted putting out the fire with extinguishers.
The fire was first reported at about 12:20 a.m. on Wednesday. Firefighters arrived at the scene within four minutes of the fire being detected.
The blaze was put out by 12:55 a.m., but most of those who died had been unable to evacuate, allegedly due to old age and medical conditions.
According to reports, there were 35 people on the second floor of the building when the fire broke out, 14 of whom managed to escape.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)