South Korea suffered its second serious transport accident in just over two weeks on Friday when a subway train in the capital, Seoul, crashed into a train at a station, injuring 200 people although no one was killed.
The country is still mourning the victims of a ferry accident on April 16, when 300 people were killed or are missing in the submerged hull of a capsized ship in the country’s worst disaster in 20 years.
Most of those hurt in the mid-afternoon accident on Friday appeared to have suffered minor abrasions, according to emergency officials at Sangwangsimni station in the east of the capital, although one person was being treated for a brain haemorrhage and one for a fracture.
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.
Seoul Metro official Chung Soo-young said the accident was caused by a signal failure and that two subway cars were derailed.
Many of the injuries were caused by passengers jumping from the subway cars onto the tracks, a government emergency official said.
“I fell forwards maybe two or three metres,” said Lee Dong-hyeon, 26, an office worker on the train that crashed into the one stopped at the station. “It was like tripping over when running really fast.”
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 per cent.