Cause of KT building fire remains a mystery despite two months of probe


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The cause of a calamitous fire that engulfed a Seoul switching station of telecom giant KT Corp. two months ago remains elusive despite intensive investigations by police, forensic experts and firefighters, a police report said Friday.

The report released by Rep. Kim Young-ho of the ruling Democratic Party said that the Seoul Seodaemun Police Station has so far been unsuccessful in determining the cause of the fire that occurred at KT‘s Ahyeon switching station in western Seoul on Nov. 24 last year, paralyzing the company’s mobile and Internet services in extensive areas of the capital for days.

(Yonhap)

Police investigators aided by the National Forensic Service and firefighter experts have delved into all possibilities but still face difficulties in finding the cause of the fire, the report said.

It said the investigators give more weight to the possibility of internal or electrical problems than to arson or accidental fire.

According to the report, the NFS told police that the possibility of electrical problems, such as those from internal power cables, starting the KT fire cannot be ruled out.

The NFS also reportedly said it is difficult to determine the ignition point and cause due to the severe damage to the switching station. The agency also said the possibility of an influx of external flammable materials into the station‘s underground network cables is low.

“The opinion of the NFS has been reflected in the investigation. But in principle, all possibilities are subject to the probe,” said a police officer, adding that no suspect has been booked so far.

KT is the nation’s top fixed-line operator and No. 2 mobile carrier.

The Nov. 24 fire was entirely extinguished after 10 hours, and no casualties were reported, although the property damage was estimated at 8 billion won ($7 million).

Individuals and retailers who subscribe to the company‘s mobile and Internet networks suffered enormous inconvenience and financial damage.

The operation of shops, such as convenience stores and restaurants in western Seoul, was disrupted for days as the fire paralyzed credit card payment systems that use KT’s communication network. (Yonhap)


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