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Shopping mall fire kills five in latest South Korean accident

Source: Reuters - Mon, 26 May 2014 10:56 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates number of deaths, injured in lead paragraph)

SEOUL, May 26 (Reuters) - A fire at a bus terminal and shopping complex in a busy suburban neighbourhood killed six people and injured more than 40 on Monday, the latest in a series of accidents in South Korea, including a ferry disaster that killed more than 300.

The fire broke out in the morning in the terminal complex north of Seoul that houses large shopping malls and a movie theatre.

Fire officials said the blaze started in the food court area, where renovations were being carried out and a welding torch was likely responsible. Most of the victims suffered from smoke inhalation, they said.

South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy and a 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 broken up the coast guard to streamline maritime search and rescue operations. (Reporting By Kahyun Yang; Editing by Jack Kim and Ron Popeski)

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