World / Asia-Pacific

Subway trains crash in South Korean capital, 200 hurt

(Agencies/Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-02 16:13

Subway trains crash in South Korean capital, 200 hurt

A damaged subway train is seen at a subway station in Seoul May 2, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

SEOUL - A subway train in the South Korean capital Seoul crashed into another one at a station on Friday, injuring about 200 passengers, news reports and the emergency services said, although no one appeared to be seriously hurt.

The accident came just over two weeks after a South Korean ferry capsized and sank leaving 300 dead or missing in the submerged hull of the ship in the country's worst disaster in 20 years.

One train of Subway Line 2 ran into the back of another that stopped between stations because of mechanical problems near Sangwangsimni Station at around 3:32 pm local time.

The injured passengers have been taken to the nearby hospitals. Most of them have light ankles or feet injuries, officials said. But one of the two train drivers suffered a fractured shoulder. Some of the passengers have been cured and went back home.

Dozens of fire vehicles and ambulances have been sent to the station, officials said. Two cars of the train were derailed as a result of the collision and passengers walked a short distance along the tracks to the station. 

Service on Subway Line 2 was partly restricted after the accident. Local government has sent more buses and taxis to areas near the station.

It will take at least four to five hours to finish the urgent repair of the train, Seoul Metropolitan Government said, adding a total of 159 workers are at the scene for repairing operation.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has set up a central crisis center and sent railway safety inspectors to the scene.

Seoul Metro, the operator of the subway, said it was the first time in South Korea that subway trains had collided.

Officials of Seoul Metro said both trains are being driven manually. The train in front was approved to stop there to check its problems, but the back train didn't keep the safe distance and rammed into the rear end of the front one after making a sudden brake.

Officials said a failure in the following train's automatic distance control system might be the cause of the collision, but the exact cause of the accident is still under investigation.

A witness who said he was a passenger in one of the trains said it rammed into a train in front of it as it approached a station. He said he saw blood on the floor of a train car.

An onboard announcement initially told passengers to stay inside, but most people ignored it and forced the doors open to escape, he said.

Most those who died in the ferry sinking off the southwest coast on April 16 were schoolchildren who were told by the crew to stay inside the vessel, even as the crew left.

The sinking and the deaths of hundreds of schoolchildren has hit President Park Geun-hye's approval rating.

A Gallup Korea poll issued on Friday showed her rating had plunged by 11 percentage points in the past two weeks to 48 percent.

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