At least seven people died and one was injured when a fire broke out in the underground parking lot of shopping mall in Daejeon before it opened on Monday morning. According to emergency services in the central city, the fire erupted in the basement of the Hyundai Premium Outlet at around 7:45 a.m. and it took firefighters until around 3 p.m. to put it out. Three mall workers were rescued from the parking lot, but two died and one is in intensive care. Rescue workers later discovered five more bodies. Investigators believe the conflagration started in the underground loading area. "When we checked CCTV footage, we saw dark smoke and sparks erupt near a one-ton truck after a man unloaded cargo from it," a police officer said.
Smoke spread so quickly that the workers were unable to find shelter. One delivery worker who managed to escape said, "I heard loud banging sounds like metal pipes being hit, and black smoke was everywhere in less than 20 to 30 seconds." Hyundai Premium Outlet opened in June 2020 and is the biggest shopping mall in Daejeon. The seven-story mall sits on a 129,557 sq.m piece of land and contains 265 stores, a 100-room hotel and movie theater. Around 110 people were evacuated from the hotel and connected buildings due to the fire. Daejeon police are looking into whether sprinklers and other equipment operated properly.