At least 38 people were killed as a fire ripped through a warehouse in South Korea’s Icheon city, with rescue workers continuing their search for missing persons amid the charred rubble on Thursday.

The fire,one of the country’s deadliest in years, engulfed the four-storey building under construction in the city, 50 km southeast of Seoul, on Wednesday afternoon and was put out five hours later, Yonhap news Agency reported.

Most of the 38 deceased were construction workers. Eight injured people were in serious condition in the early hours of the day, while two others sustained minor injuries.

Firefighters brought in excavators to search every corner of the warehouse as they struggle to confirm if any more victims remain in the wreckage.

“We are continuing our search operation in order to find if there are any more victims, unaccounted for or buried somewhere,” Yonhap News Agency quoted a firefighter as saying.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun convened a meeting of government ministers Thursday to discuss the government’s response to the disaster.

“We need to find a more practical solution in order to prevent the recurrence of a fire at a construction site,” Chung further added.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in asked related ministries to do their utmost efforts in the search-and-rescue operation by mobilising all available resources, presidential blue house spokesman Kang Min-seok said.

In 2019, At least two people were killed and many injured after an internal balcony collapsed at a night club in the South Korean city of Gwangju.

South Korea, one of Asia’s richest economies, has struggled for decades to improve safety standards and change widespread attitudes that treat safety as subservient to economic progress and convenience.

Icheon was the site of another enormous fire in 2008 when 40 workers died at a refrigerated warehouse.

Forty-six people died in 2018 when a fire ripped through a small hospital with no sprinkler systems in the southern city of Miryang.

(With inputs from agency)