(2nd LD) 2 firefighters found dead in meat factory fire

Two firefighters were found dead early Thursday after they were trapped at a burning meat processing factory in the central city of Mungyeong while on a mission to search for fire victims, authorities said. Rescuers retrieved the bodies of the firefighters, Kim, 27, and Park, 35, from the third floor of the fire-damaged factory building in Mungyeong, 140 kilometers southeast of Seoul, at 1:01 a.m and 4:14 a.m., respectively, the fire agency of the North Gyeongsang Province said. Together with two other coworkers, the two firefighters were searching for any remaining victims inside the building and locating the origin of the fire on the third floor when they were engulfed by the flames and trapped, the authorities said. As the flames rapidly spread, the firefighters attempted to evacuate the building through the stairs but appear to have failed, according to the authorities. The fire started in the four-story meat processing factory at 7:47 p.m. the previous day, and the main body of the blaze was brought under control shortly after midnight. Five factory workers were reported to have evacuated the building, with one of them sent to a hospital after inhaling smoke. Some 331 firefighters and 47 fire engines and other equipment were mobilized to combat the blaze. President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed his deep sorrow in a condolence message released by his spokesperson, Kim Soo-kyung. "My heart ached upon hearing the sad news and I could not fall asleep," he said, saying he prays for the souls of the deceased and extends his deepest condolences to their families. "A sacrifice for community is noble. That is the reason we should not forget the tragic sacrifice of the firefighting heroes. We will never forget the hard work of those who dedicated and sacrificed themselves for the Republic of Korea," he added. Police and fire authorities plan to look into the exact cause of the fire and the circumstances of the firefighters' deaths. Fire authorities also plan to conduct DNA tests to precisely identify the retrieve d bodies of the firefighters, as the bodies were found in a condition where it's difficult to identify them with the naked eye. "The identities of the trapped rescuers, who were wearing the same outfit, have not been confirmed as of now," Bae Jong-hyuk, the chief of the Mungyeong fire agency, said. "What is clear, however, is that the firefighters did their best to extinguish the fire, and a truly sad thing has happened." Source: Yonhap News Agency