Four Nigerian children of the same parents, aged between 6 and 11, were confirmed dead in a fire that razed a three-storey residential building in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, south of Seoul, in Korea.
According to the Gyeonggi Disaster and Safety Headquarters, the fire broke out in a multifamily residence in Danwon District, Ansan, at around 3:28 a.m. Monday, March 27, 2023.
The fire was put out in about 40 minutes at 4:16 a.m., but the family’s two-room house, about 13 pyeong (463 square feet) in area, was entirely burnt, authorities said.
Four out of five siblings from a Nigerian family were found dead in a room. The victims included two girls aged 11 and two boys aged six and seven.
Only the youngest sibling made it out alive with the parents.
All seven family members were home when the fire broke out, but the parents managed to take their two-year-old daughter with them as they escaped through a window..
The father was reportedly sleeping in the living room, and the rest of the family members were in a bedroom when the fire broke out.
The parents are currently being treated at a hospital.
According to police and fire authorities, the father saw the fire and notified his wife and five children sleeping in the bedroom together.
He then started knocking on his neighbours’ doors barefooted and pouring water on the fire to extinguish it.
The father came to Korea in 2008 on a D-9 Technician visa and supported the family by collecting secondhand clothes and household goods to send to Nigeria.
His wife came to Korea in 2012 and gave birth to all five children in Korea.
According to authorities, there were neither fire extinguishers nor fire alarms in the building.
“The building is very old, but many foreigners continue to live there because it’s cheap,” said a pastor at Ansan Multicultural Church, which helps foreigners adjust to the area.
Officials from the local government and the Embassy of Nigeria in Korea promised to support the family on Monday.
Another 37 residents of the building, mostly foreigners, were evacuated. Six people, including three Nigerians, two Uzbekistans and one Russian, sustained minor injuries, including smoke inhalation.
Police and fire authorities suspect the fire started from a power outlet in the living room wall but have requested further investigation by the National Forensic Service to figure out the exact cause..
“We are investigating the case remaining open to all possible causes, and an autopsy of the dead bodies will be done as well,” said a police officer.