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Research lab fire kills one, injures two in South Korea

20 May 2020

A fire at an LG Chem research centre on May 19 killed one person and injured two others. The blaze happened at the company’s catalyst lab in the city of Seosan, around 75 miles (120km) south of Seoul.

The person who died in the fire was a researcher at the lab. The blaze started at around 14:20 local time before firefighters extinguished it around an hour later. The two injured workers were taken to hospital with second-degree burns.

Yonhap news agency reports that the fire is presumed to have started when heavy pressure caused a pyrophoric substance in a catalyst to ignite after coming into contact with air in the research centre’s packing room. Pyrophoric substances ignite spontaneously in air at or below 54°C or within a few minutes of coming into contact with air.

The centre was shut down immediately after the fire was discovered, although officials said there was no leak of harmful or hazardous substances. Police and fire authorities have opened an investigation into the incident.

The blaze occurred 12 days after a gas leak at a chemical plant belonging to LG Chem killed 12 people in southern India. The leak on May 7 caused hundreds of people to fall ill with burning eyes and breathing difficulties as thousands of people were evacuated from the surrounding area.

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