A Lithium Battery Plant Explodes in South Korea, Leaving 22 Dead

Deadly Fire Kills More Than 20 After Explosion at a Lithium Battery Plant with 35,000 Units in South Korea

A massive fire at around 10:30 a.m. on Monday 24 June 2024 at a lithium battery manufacturing plant in South Korea has resulted in the deaths of at least 22 individuals, including 18 Chinese nationals.

According to AFP news agency, Hwaseong Fire Department official Kim Jin-young informed the media that over 100 workers were present in the factory when explosions were heard from the second floor, where lithium-ion batteries were being inspected and packed.

A Lithium Battery Plant Explodes in South Korea, Leaving 22 Dead

The fire, which ensued as a result of these explosions, claimed the lives of 22 people, including 20 foreign nationals (18 Chinese), one person from Laos, and another whose identity is yet to be determined.

Kim added that most of the bodies are badly burned, making identification a time-consuming process.

He mentioned that firefighters are still searching for one missing person and have successfully controlled the devastating fire within the plant.

Kim Jin-young stated that firefighters are conducting a cooling operation to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby factories.

Photos shared by Yonhap after the fire show large plumes of gray smoke rising above the factory with orange flames visible inside the building.

An estimated 35,000 battery cells were stored on the second floor of the vast factory, but most batteries had been safely stored in other areas.

Lithium batteries burn hot and fast, making them difficult to extinguish using conventional methods.

Kim Jin-young noted the difficulty in entering the factory due to the fear of further explosions. Given that it was a lithium battery factory, it was determined that water would not extinguish the fire, so dry sand was used instead.

The lithium battery plant is owned by South Korean battery manufacturer Aricell, located in Hwaseong city, south of the capital Seoul.

Shares of Aricell’s parent company, S-Connect, fell by more than 20% on the Seoul exchange by the close on Monday. S-Connect owns 96% of Aricell.

Lithium batteries are used in everything from laptops to electric vehicles but can be extremely explosive for airlines and aircraft.

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