Police said those killed had been too ill to move quickly or evacuate the building on time [Reuters/Yonhap]

At least 10 people have been killed after a fire broke out in a nursing home in a southeastern city in South Korea, police say.

Another 17 people were injured in the blaze which broke out early on Friday morning in Pohang, about 370km southeast of the capital, Seoul.

Firefighters said the dead were all patients aged between 71 and 90 who could not move or evacuated quick enough to escape the flames.

Lee In-shik, a police officer, said all the victims were women who were sleeping when the fire broke out in the early morning on the first floor of a two-storey building in the port city of Pohang.

He said the blaze raged for about 30 minutes before firefighters put it out, adding that victims who sustained minor injuries were taken to nearby hospitals for medical treatment.

Police and fire officials were trying to determine its cause.

Lee Myung-bak, the South Korean president, expressed regret about the deaths before proceeding to the venue of the G20 summit of major economies under way in Seoul, according to his spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung.

Source: Agencies