Seoul, South Korea: A fire swept through a hospital in South Korea early Wednesday, killing 21 people and leaving six others in a critical condition, according to a report.
Most of the patients who died at the hospital in Janseong county, south of the capital Seoul, were in their seventies and eighties, Yonhap news agency said, citing police and fire officials.
Thirty bedridden patients were trapped by "choking fumes" on the second floor of an annex building, while 10 patients on the first floor managed to escape, the report said.
One nurse was on duty at the time and was among the dead.
The fire was extinguished in around 30 minutes, Yonhap cited fire official Kim Kyong-Man as saying, adding that officials said the toxic fumes were to blame for the heavy death toll.
Seven people were injured in the blaze at the hospital -- 186 miles (300 kilometres) south of Seoul - with six in a critical condition, prompting fears the toll could rise.
The elderly patients were suffering from a range of illnesses including Alzheimer's disease, while others had suffered strokes.
It was the second deadly blaze in South Korea in two days after seven people were killed and 41 injured in a fire at a bus terminal near Seoul on Monday.
That fire was believed to have been sparked by welding work at an underground restaurant.
The country is still reeling from the loss of around 300 people - mostly schoolchildren - in a ferry disaster last month.