(3rd LD) 23 injured in fire, explosion at bathhouse in Busan

A fire and an explosion struck a bathhouse in the southeastern city of Busan on Friday, injuring 23 people, including the ward's chief and firefighters, police said Friday.

The blaze erupted at 1:40 p.m. at the public bathhouse in Busan, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and firefighters brought the main flames under control before an unidentified explosion struck the site.

The sudden explosion left 23 people wounded, including nearby firefighters and civil servants who were hit by debris from the blast. Of them, two firefighters sustained serious burns all over their bodies, officials said.

No customers were in the bathhouse as it was closed for the day, officials said.

Kim Jin-hong, the chief of Busan's Dong Ward who was inspecting the site at the time, was also being treated at a hospital.

A witness said he heard a big bang two times and saw the building shake.

Local fire authorities said in a briefing that they suspect the explosion broke out in a boiler room located in the basement of the building.

Police have restricted access to the area due to concerns about potential additional explosions.

The police and firefighter authorities are looking into the exact cause of the accident.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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