SEOUL, South Korea — Pope Francis is sending his condolences to the victims of the South Korean hospital fire and is encouraging emergency personnel as they try to help survivors.
Francis conveyed his prayers in a telegram Friday sent by the Vatican secretary of state.
The blaze raced through the Sejong Hospital in the southeastern city of Miryang on Friday, killing 37 people, many of them elderly.
In the message, Francis said he was praying for the dead and that the wounded heal. He also sent encouragement to the “civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this disaster.”
Francis visited South Korea in August 2014.
Fire authorities have revised the death toll from a hospital fire in southeastern South Korea to 37. The National Fire Agency earlier said 39 were killed in the fire at Sejong Hospital in the city of Miryang.
It said in a statement the mistake in the death toll occurred because of double counting.
It said the fire left 143 injured, seven of them in serious condition. A hospital official says three members of the medical staff died, one emergency room doctor who was on duty, one nurse and one nurse assistant.
The head of the foundation that operates the hospital, Son Kyung-cheol, also said in a televised briefing Friday afternoon that sprinklers were not installed in the hospital as it was not legally required.
Local health official Cheon Jae-kyung says 10 others are in critical condition from Friday’s fire at Sejong Hospital in the southeastern city of Miryang.
He says most of the dead victims were killed by smoke inhalation.
The cause of the blaze is unknown, but the fire started from the first floor.
A total of 194 people were in two buildings. Sejong Hospital has a nursing home for the elderly and also offers regular medical services.