Fire at South Korean Lithium Battery Plant Kills 22

June 24, 2024
Burning battery materials prove difficult to contain

Updated on 7/11/24 at 1:55 p.m. EDT

A devastating fire at a lithium battery factory near Seoul, South Korea, on June 24 killed at least 22 people, various news agencies reported (later reports said the total dead was 23). The incident occurred at an Aricell facility in Hwaseong, approximately 28 miles south of the capital. Among the deceased, 20 were reportedly foreign nationals, including 18 Chinese citizens and one Laotian and one unknown nationality. Two of the fatalities were of South Korean origin, according to a Bloomberg News report.

The fire, which started around 10:30 a.m., posed significant challenges for firefighters due to the nature of lithium battery fires, Bloomberg reported. More than 100 emergency responders struggled to contain the blaze, which was finally brought under control by mid-afternoon. The rapid spread of the fire was exacerbated by continuous battery explosions, with an estimated 35,000 cells stored on-site, Bloomberg stated, citing a Yonhap News report.

Fire officials reported that conventional firefighting methods proved difficult in extinguishing the burning lithium batteries, contributing to the complexity of the situation.

 

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