A fitness center in Jecheon caught fire, leaving 29 dead and 30 injured.
The fitness center building housed a variety of stores and shops, including a sauna on the 2nd floor. 20 of the 29 deaths were from people trapped in the women’s sauna.
According to news reports, the main automatic door of the sauna was broken, trapping the women inside, and no employees had stayed behind to help the people evacuate safely. The emergency exit on the second floor was blocked by shelves of goods that the sauna used as a warehouse.
Furthermore, the bereaved families claim that the 20 women could have been saved if the fire department responded quickly with the correct rescue operations.
“If the [fire fighters] had broken the 2nd-floor window, most of the women could have survived.
They cried out for the rescue team to break the window, but they didn’t respond back.”
— Bereaved Family Member
The fire engine’s ladder was also not working properly on the day of the fire, which could have helped evacuate the victims from the higher floors.
The bereaved families poured out their grudges to President Moon Jae In and the Minister of Public Administration and Security. They demand an answer for the building’s improper safety regulations, as well as the fire department’s failure to successfully rescue the victims on time.
An investigation team of experts has been formed to verify if the fire department made any mistakes in the rescue process.
The police have raided the homes of the building owner and manager to collect evidence that they neglected to follow proper safety regulations. The police are set to press charges of manslaughter and violation of the fire law against them.
“We raided the houses to collect evidence that would help substantiate charges leveled against them.”
— Police Official
The torch relay for the Pyeongchang Olympics was scheduled to run though Jecheon, but the route has been revised in light of the tragedy.