SEOUL – South Korea President Moon Jae-in visited on Saturday the hospital in Milyang where 37 people died and more than 140 were injured after a fire broke out, the causes of which are under investigation.
Moon, who wanted to go to hospital to convey his condolences to the families of the victims, made a surprise visit which lasted an hour and 40 minutes, reported Yonhap news agency.
“I feel sorrowful and heartbroken as such tragedies continue to occur despite pledges by the government to make our country safe,” said Moon during the visit, according to the Presidential Office.
Moon also said he felt ashamed and wanted to express his deepest condolences to the families and all the residents of Milyang located about 280 kilometers south-east of Seoul.
The South Korean government held an emergency meeting Friday when the fire broke out and urged an investigation to clarify what led to the catastrophe.
Amid investigations into whether the hospital had adequate security measures, criticism has grown in the country with the opposition calling for political responsibility.
This incident comes after a fire broke out in December in a gymnasium in Jecheon which left 29 dead and 36 wounded.
Moon, after hailing the work of the firefighters and emergency teams said that incidents like these show the need to focus on issues like fire prevention and safety management.
Friday morning, flames were detected in the emergency room on the first floor of the main hospital building.
Firefighters took about three hours to put out the fire, which broke out when some 180 people were inside the building.
The fire completely razed the first floor although the blaze did not reach any of the upper floors.
This is the worst fire recorded in South Korea since 2008, when 40 workers died in a warehouse in Icheon southeast of Seoul.