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Dozens hospitalised after 33-storey tower in South Korea catches fire

A fire engulfed a 33-storey building in Ulsan, a city in southern South Korea on Thursday, dozens hospitalised. 

Hundreds were evacuated from the building after it caught fire at 11pm local time on Thursday. More than 91 people were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and other minor injuries.

The country’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety said 77 people were rescued from the building, and another 82 were evacuated to a nearby hotel.

Photos of the scene show black smoke billowing above the building, and blackened debris scattered along the street.

The first emergency call was made by a resident on the 12th floor, but it’s not clear where the blaze started and what caused it, said the fire department. The Ministry said it appears to have spread from one of the lower floors up to the top floor, burning the building’s outer wall.

Authorities said the fire department’s quick response was likely why there weren’t major casualties; firefighters arrived at the building five minutes after receiving the first call.

More than 1,000 personnel were deployed, said the fire department, including 930 firefighters and 75 other emergency responders.

Strong winds fanned the flames and made it difficult to completely extinguish the fire, with embers flaring up for hours afterward, according to Yonhap, the country’s government-funded news agency.

Local media reported firefighters managed to stop the spread of the flames after more than 13 hours.

Samhwan Art Nouveau commercial and residential building, which has about 120 households and shopping units.

South Korea has faced several major fires in the past few years, the most recent being a fire in the city of Icheon this April. The fire, which broke out at a construction site, killed 38 people and injured at least 10.