Fire destroys Seoul's historic Sungnyemun gate

Other News Materials 11 February 2008 01:11 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - A fire late Sunday destroyed Seoul's historic landmark gate, the more than 600-year-old Sungnyemun gate, with firefighters needing five hours to put out the blaze.

Television reports said the two-storey wooden structure, also known as the Namdaemun ( South Gate), burned completely down to its foundations.

The gate dates back to 1398. It was rebuilt after being almost totally destroyed during the 1950-1953 Korean War and in 1962 was declared as South Korea's "National Treasure No. 1."

Some 30 fire trucks and nearly 130 firefighters were called in to battle the blaze. There were no casualties.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but the online edition of Korean Times said police were following a lead of possible arson.

The police said a taxi driver had observed a man going up the stairs with a shopping bag and then seeing a spark like a firework, with the man leaving the scene afterwards, the newspaper report added.