China seeks probe into ROK killer blaze

By Le Tian and Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-13 06:52

The Chinese ambassador to Seoul, Ning Fukui, yesterday urged the Republic of Korea (ROK) to investigate the cause of a fire that killed eight Chinese and injured 17 others, embassy officials said.

In a meeting with the ROK Deputy Foreign Minister Cho Jung-pyo, Ning said the Chinese government will monitor the investigation closely.

The fire was a "shocking incident" and the Chinese government regards it "very seriously", the ambassador said. He asked the ROK government to take action to ensure a similar incident does not occur again, and make adequate arrangements for the victims.

Ning will fly to Yeosu today to visit the injured and express his condolences, Zhao Dengyu, a consul at the Chinese embassy, said. Three of the dead still need to be identified.

The embassy is making efforts to get in touch with their families.

Earlier yesterday, the Chinese embassy dispatched a general consul to Yeosu, about 450 kilometers south of Seoul. Two Chinese consuls were sent to the scene on Sunday afternoon.

Zhao said the embassy is preparing to receive the victims' families from China and will facilitate their applications for entry visas. Whether to bring the dead back to China or to bury them in the ROK will be decided by the families, he added.

The fire occurred at a Yeosu immigration detention center before dawn on Sunday. The blaze also killed a Uzbek and injured a Sri Lankan.

The ROK Foreign Ministry set up an emergeny damage control team yesterday.

The Yonhap News Agency quoted unidentified witnesses as saying the fire started on the third floor of the four-storey building, but the exact cause is not yet known.

(China Daily 02/13/2007 page2)

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