Negligent subway staff may face criminal charges

  • AseanPlus News
  • Saturday, 22 Feb 2003

DAEGU (South Korea): Investigators said yesterday they were considering drawing up criminal charges against subway staff whose alleged negligence contributed to the high death toll in a subway inferno here. 

The toll in Tuesday's arson attack stands at 133 but is expected to rise with more than 300 people listed as missing and 130 others in hospital, some in serious condition. 

More than 100 passengers who survived the fire that gutted two trains had been questioned, he said. The 39-year-old driver of one of the trains, who may face criminal charges, has also been questioned. The inquiry has focused on poor security precautions, lack of safety measures and human error.  

Police said the arson suspect, Kim Dae-Hwan, 56, poured petrol from a plastic bottle inside one of the carriages at the downtown subway stop here and ignited it with a cigarette lighter. 

“He said he wanted to commit suicide by self-immolation, but later decided not to die alone and searched for a place crowded with people,” said police detective Cho Doo-Won.  

More than five minutes after the fire took hold, a second train was allowed to pull up at the station on a parallel track, exposing several hundred more people to imminent danger. 

Most of those who died in the disaster were trapped inside that second train.  

With the power supply to the station cut off following the outbreak of the fire, the driver of the second train, identified as Choi Sang-Ryol, told police he switched the automatic doors of the train to manual to allow passengers to flee. However, investigation of the charred wreckage showed that only one door was opened. – AFP  

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