A 33-story apartment building in South Korea's southern city of Ulsan is engulfed in fire on Oct. 8 in this photo provided by a witness. (Yonhap)
Firefighters are at work to put out a fire at a high-rise apartment building in Ulsan on Friday after dozens of people were sent to hospitals for smoke inhalation.
The blaze broke out at 11:07 p.m. Thursday at the 33-story Samhwan Art Nouveau commercial and residential building in Ulsan, and flames spread by strong winds engulfed the entire building at one point, sending hundreds of people to evacuate.
At least 88 people have been sent to hospitals for inhaling smoke, and no deaths have been reported thus far. Firefighters continue to search for anyone who might be inside.
The fire was brought under control about two hours after it broke out, but has not been fully extinguished as of Friday morning, with strong winds disrupting the work of firefighters at the site. According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, Ulsan recorded a maximum wind speed of 30.2 kilometers per hour at 7 a.m.
The Ulsan Fire Department said fire seeds were hidden throughout the bulding‘s exterior made with aluminum panels, which also caused delays in extinguishing the fire.
Aluminum panels are more susceptible to fire as they are connected with polyester.
The fire is reported to have broken out on the 12th floor of the building that houses 127 households and shopping units, and officials are working to verify the cause of the fire. Witnesses said the exterior walls of the building, possibly insulation, appear to have caused the fire to spread quickly.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called the National Fire Agency, the Korean National Policy Agency and Ulsan city government to mobilize all resources available to put out the fire and ensure the safety of the people.
Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young and visited the scene to check on the response. National Fire Agency Fire Commissioner Jeong Moon-ho also visited to site to directly lead extinguishing and rescue work. Firefighters rescued 54 people from the building during the response efforts.
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