Rescue workers enter burning Coupang warehouse to find trapped firefighter

ICHEON, South Korea, Rescue workers entered a burning Coupang Inc. warehouse Saturday to resume their search for a firefighter who has been trapped inside for around 48 hours, officials said.

A team of 15 rescue workers began the search around 10:40 a.m. after inspectors checked the safety of the e-commerce giant's four-story building in Icheon, 80 kilometers southeast of Seoul, which caught fire early Thursday morning.

Kim Dong-shik, a 52-year-old firefighter, went missing around 11:20 a.m. Thursday after he entered the second-floor basement with four of his colleagues to search for people who had been left behind.

A search for Kim was suspended on the day as the fire began to spread throughout the building.

The fire broke out in the second-floor basement and was thought to be under control several hours later. It quickly spread, however, as the flames jumped between large amounts of flammable packing material, including papers, boxes, plastics and stickers.

Authorities believe the fire was caused by a spark from a power outlet, citing closed-circuit TV footage.

Firefighters have been using water cannons to put out the fire from the outside instead of entering the building out of concern it could soon collapse. The second floor began to buckle Friday.

The warehouse handles deliveries nationwide and a Coupang official said the company has been trying to minimize inconvenience to customers by distributing them to other centers.

Coupang CEO Kang Han-seung said in a statement Friday that the company apologizes for "causing concern" and for the damage caused by the fire.

He also expressed hope for the safe return of the trapped firefighter and promised to closely cooperate with the authorities in investigating the fire.

Source: Yohnap News Agency

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