Blaze at South Korea lithium battery plant kills 22

Twenty-two people have been confirmed dead in a fire that engulfed a lithium battery factory near Seoul, South Korea, on Monday.

Fire department officials said the blaze started after battery cells exploded one after another at the plant in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, citing information from witnesses. There were about 35,000 lithium batteries at the site.

They said the deceased included 18 Chinese, two South Koreans and one Laotian, but that the nationality of the one remaining victim has yet to be identified.

Most of the bodies were found on the second floor of the factory, where workers were examining and packaging products. Officials said the victims failed to escape, despite the existence of a staircase leading outside.

President Yoon Suk-yeol visited the site on Monday night. The president blamed the deaths on the existence of ignitable materials near an emergency exit, which he said kept workers inside from fleeing. He instructed officials to determine the cause of the incident and take steps to prevent a recurrence.