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Fire at South Korea battery plant kills at least 16 people, 5 missing

Fire at South Korea battery plant kills at least 16 people, 5 missing

Monday, June 24, 2024, 15:50 GMT+7
Fire at South Korea battery plant kills at least 16 people, 5 missing
Emergency personnel move the body of a person killed in a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

SEOUL -- A fire broke out at a lithium battery factory in South Korea on Monday, killing at least 16 people and five others remain missing, local fire officials said.

The fire, which has largely been extinguished, occurred at around 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) at a factory run by battery manufacturer Aricell in Hwaseong, south of the capital Seoul.

The blaze began after a series of battery cells exploded inside a warehouse with some 35,000 units, said Kim Jin-young, a local fire official. What had triggered the explosion remains unclear, he added.

Yonhap news agency had earlier reported that some 20 bodies had been found inside the plant, but Kim told a televised briefing that 16 people died and two others have suffered serious injuries.

He said rescuers were trying to find the five people unaccounted for.

A firefighter inspects the site of a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

A firefighter inspects the site of a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

A Reuters witness saw firefighters moving up to six bodies out of the factory, which his located in an industrial area.

Established in 2020, Aricell makes lithium primary batteries for sensors and radio communication devices. It has 48 employees, according to its latest regulatory filing and its Linkedin profile.

Calls to Aricell offices were unanswered.

The company is not listed on South Korea's stock market but is majority owned by S-Connect, according to Aricell regulatory filing. S-Connect is registered on the junior Kosdaq index and its shares closed down 22.5 percent.

Live TV footage showed firefighters spraying the damaged steel and concrete building. Parts of the upper level had collapsed, and large chunks of the building looked like they had been blown out into the street by an explosion.

Emergency personnel carry the body of a person killed in a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Emergency personnel carry the body of a person killed in a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

[4/5]Emergency personnel work at the site of a deadly fire at a battery factory in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Emergency personnel work at the site of a deadly fire at a battery factory in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

[5/5]Emergency personnel carry the body of a person killed in a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Emergency personnel carry the body of a person killed in a deadly fire at a lithium battery factory owned by South Korean battery maker Aricell, in Hwaseong, South Korea, June 24, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Reuters

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