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3 Thai nationals killed by fire at accommodation

Jan 31,2020

Three Thai nationals were killed after a fire broke out at their accommodation in Haenam County, South Jeolla, on Jan. 25.

A fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. in a single-story house in Haenam County which was being used as an accommodation for foreign workers. The fire was completely extinguished after about 40 minutes, killing three Thai nationals who were illegally working in the country.

The three workers have been identified as two men in their 20s and one woman in her 30s.

The results of autopsies released on Tuesday revealed that all three died of suffocation from smoke inhalation.

The Haenam Police Precinct, firefighting authorities and the National Forensic Service held a joint inspection on the scene for about two hours the next day, but the exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

According to the police, the house had a living room with a kitchen, a big room, a small room and a bathroom. The fire first started in a small room and two of the Thai workers were found dead in the bathroom while one was found in the big room.

The police initially investigated the accident as a case of arson as one of residents said he heard a fight from the house in the morning and saw a foreigner leaving immediately before the fire started. However, it was later revealed that there was no sign of a break-in at the house and no flammable materials were found.

According to the Haenam Police Precinct, the three Thai workers arrived in Haenam County on Jan. 21 to start working in a dried seaweed factory with the help of a broker.

The public raised questions about the accident as there were no survivors although the fire broke out in a single-story house, in which people can escape quickly, and the workers were young.

“We are investigating all the possibilities including arson,” an official from the Haenam Police Precinct said. “As the dead Thai workers were illegal immigrants, the broker who brought them to work in the factory is also the subject of our investigation.”

BY CHEA SARAH, KIM JUN-HEE [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]