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Page first written 22 February 2003
Last updated 22 February 2003
Arson attack in the subway of Daegu, South Korea
On Tuesday 18 February at 10:00 local time, an arsonist started fire when he was on a train of Subway Line 1 in Daegu, South Korea, by spreading flammable liquid (reportedly two PET bottle full of petrol) into one of the carriages of a six-car train when it reached Jungangno Station (double-track, separate double platform layout). All carriages of the train which arrived at the opposite platform shortly after the start of the fire, as well as all carriages of the attacked train, were totally burnt down, and more than 130 were feared dead.
The fact that most of the dead were not on the attacked train but on the one going to the opposite direction clearly indicates that fireproof design standards for the subway (metro) trains in this country were apparently inadequate. There seem to be apparent problems on the actions taken by the members of staff, who either let the second, opposite-bound train go into the station or left the train with its master key resulting in passengers trapped inside the train. However, the government should also be blamed for not raising the fireproofness standards for so long. Another report said that the South Korean government decided to replace the interior of all trains used in the Subway lines across the country, the decision which came simply too late.
One thing that we should note is that this is an arson attack, not an accident. The fireproof design, even if it is properly done, will only prevent fire to spread so rapidly like it did this time. To cope with this kind of criminal actions in the future, I believe that some experiments should be performed to obtain data on the fireproofness of the train when highly flammable substance like petrol was intentionally brought into the train.
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TAKAGI, Ryo email@example.com (c) R. Takagi 2003. All rights reserved.