A fire at a detention center killed 10 people and injured 17 others, mostly Chinese, who were waiting deportation for illegal entry to the country, a fire department official said Sunday.

Nine Chinese and one Uzbek were killed in the pre-dawn fire at the detention center in Yeosu, about 280 miles south of Seoul, the official said on customary condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

The 17 injured were mostly Chinese, he said.

The exact cause of the fire, which started on the third floor of the four-story building, was not immediately known, police said.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the center was holding 55 foreigners, most of whom were Chinese. The rest of the detainees had been rescued, the report said.