(ATTN: UPDATES with more info throughout)
DAEJEON, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- The death toll from an outlet mall fire in the central city of Daejeon has risen to seven, with one person under medical treatment after sustaining serious injuries, officials said Monday.
The blaze at Hyundai Premium Outlet in Daejeon, about 160 kilometers south of Seoul, is believed to have started from the basement parking lot at 7:45 a.m. and spread quickly on cardboard boxes, sending dark smoke filling the entire floor, according to witnesses and survivors. The fire was completely extinguished around 3 p.m.
Two men, one in his 50s and the other in his 30s, were found with serious injuries and sent to a hospital but were later pronounced dead in the morning. Five more people were later found dead while another person was sent to a hospital after sustaining serious injuries, according to the officials.
The victims were delivery, cleaning and disaster prevention workers and working on the basement floor.
Some 110 people, mostly customers at nearby accommodation buildings and employees, evacuated. No outlet customers were around, as the fire broke out before the mall's business hours.
More than 126 personnel and 40 pieces of firefighting equipment were sent to combat the fire.
Police immediately launched an investigation to determine the cause of the fire and said they will also conduct a joint probe with firefighters and the National Forensic Service.
Chung Ji-sun, chairman of Hyundai Department Store Group, which operates the outlet mall, visited the fire scene and apologized.
Spanning some 130,000 square meters of land, the seven-story outlet mall went into operation in mid-2020.