UPDATE 2 - 19 Chinese among 22 dead in South Korea battery factory fire

UPDATE 2 - 19 Chinese among 22 dead in South Korea battery factory fire

Blaze started at lithium battery maker Aricell's plant in Hwaseong, near capital Seoul

UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS, CHANGES HEADLINE, DECK; EDITS THROUGHOUT

ISTANBUL (AA) - At least 22 people, including 19 Chinese nationals, died in a lithium battery plant fire in South Korea on Monday, officials and firefighters said.

The blaze started at lithium battery maker Aricell's plant in Hwaseong, near the capital Seoul, at around 10:30 a.m. local time (0130 GMT). Firefighters went inside the building after the main fire got under control at around 3:10 p.m.

Besides the Chinese nationals, one victim is Laotian and another whose nationality is not known.

President Yoon Suk Yeol also visited the site where he was briefed by officials over the rescue operation and latest situation. He earlier issued emergency instructions to mobilize all available personnel and equipment to focus on searching for and rescuing people.

Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min had also asked relevant government agencies and local governments to mobilize all available resources and personnel to extinguish the fire and rescue survivors.

The fire spread rapidly as the battery cells inside exploded continuously, making it difficult for rescuers to go inside and search.

Yonhap news said the deceased were all found on the second floor of the factory's No. 3 unit. Other details of the dead have yet to be verified and DNA tests will be carried out as the fire severely damaged the bodies.


*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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