Fire at S. Korean Summer Camp Kills 23 Children

<i> Associated Press</i>

A predawn fire swept through a three-story summer camp south of Seoul today, killing 23 kindergarten and grade school children, police said.

Two children and a teacher were also injured in the fire that broke out at 1:40 a.m. in the Sealand Youth Training Center in Hwasung, they said.

Most of those killed were 6-year-olds who were suffocated by toxic gas, police said. The victims included 19 children from one kindergarten in Seoul who were sleeping in a third-floor room, where the fire was believed to have started.

“There were bursts of sparks in a third-floor room, and then, all of a sudden, I saw blazes spreading rapidly,” Chun Kyong Ja, an employee at the urban day camp, said in a television interview.


The fire broke out in one of three buildings where about 450 children and teachers were asleep, police said.

The fire spread rapidly, sending hundreds of children on lower floors fleeing in confusion. Part of the building collapsed as firefighters struggled to contain the blaze.

Police suspect that a short circuit might have started the fire.