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170 injured as subway trains collide in South Korea

Friday, 2 May 2014 - 2:25pm IST | Place: Seoul | Agency: Reuters

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A subway train in the South Korean capital Seoul crashed into another one at a station on Friday, injuring about 170 people, news reports and the emergency services said, although no one appeared to be seriously hurt.

Witnesses said one train was leaving Sangwangsimni station in the east of the capital when it was hit from the rear by an incoming train. One subway car was derailed and passengers walked a short distance along the tracks to the station, YTN television said.

Many of the injuries were caused by passengers jumping from the subway cars onto the tracks, a government emergency official said. A doctor at a hospital near the station said injured people were walking in for treatment and did not appear to be seriously hurt.

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.

News of the accident broke as the country was still reeling from a ferry disaster on April 16 that left around 300 dead or missing in the submerged hull of the ship – most of them schoolchildren – after the boat capsized and sank. The tragedy, the country's worst disaster in 20 years, triggered widespread public anger and a bout of national soul-searching as to whether the country had sacrificed safety standards in its rush for economic development.

Most those who died in the ferry sinking 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%age points in the past two weeks to 48%.

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