DAEGU (South Korea): Angry relatives of victims of a subway arson attack confronted South Korean president-elect Roh Moo-hyun yesterday as he visited the scene where 126 people died.
Roh, 56, who takes office on Tuesday, visited the central subway station where two trains were gutted by fire two days ago and toured hospitals to comfort some of the 131 people receiving treatment for injuries.
As Roh attempted to leave the room where the altar had been erected, four women and a man blocked the door and refused to let him pass for several minutes before stunned security officials and police escorted them away.
“I have no body, please find it for me,” screamed one woman in her 50s at Roh, as other family members joined the shouting match and tugged at his clothing.
Only a few dozen of the victims have been identified.
On Wednesday, some 200 relatives searching for clues about their lost loved-ones scuffled with police and city officials.
Prime Minister Kim Suk-soo was mobbed by an unruly crowd during a visit on the same day.
President Kim Dae-jung declared South Korea's fourth largest city a disaster area, promising financial aid and Roh said he would see to it that the support was forthcoming.
“I express deep condolences over your pain and suffering,” Roh said after a 30-minute meeting with a delegation of bereaved relatives.
Police probing what went wrong were questioning subway controllers who allowed the second train to arrive at the station several minutes after the blaze started.
The arson suspect, 56-year-old Kim Dae-Hwan, a local man with a history of mental illness, poured gasoline from a plastic bottle inside one of the carriages of a train and ignited it with a cigarette lighter, police said. – AFP