• Short Summary

    In South Korea, at least 51 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured when a train blew up on Friday (11 November) night.

  • Description

    In South Korea, at least 51 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured when a train blew up on Friday (11 November) night.

    SYNOPSIS: The freight train was loaded with dynamite. The explosion occurred at Iri City railway station in southwestern Korea. Police said they were investigating whether a fire reported to have started in the train before the blast may have been set deliberately in the absence of a watchman.

    The explosion plunged Iri, which is 110 miles (175 kms) south of the capital, Seoul, into darkness. It gouged out a crater 33 feet (10 metres) across. It left the railway station a twisted mass of steel and charred overturned freight cars. The blast also flattened hundreds of buildings, started fires and severely disrupted rail services. Rescuers feared that they would find more dead under the rubble.

    Five of the people killed were crushed to death when the force of the explosion -- fuelled by 24 tons (tonnes) of dynamite -- sent the roof of a nearby cinema crashing down. About 700 people were watching a film at the time.

    Panicked residents of Iri, which has a population of 110,000 fled into the streets in a rush for safety, carrying their belongings. The area of destruction and damage covered 70 per cent of the city.

    Police estimated the total damage at nearly 11 million dollars. They first thought that the explosion may have been triggered accidentally by a burning cigarette.

    A railway official reported that the watchman jumped from one of the cars shouting "fire, fire." The man told police that he did not smoke and had found a fire blazing in the car when he returned from eating at a nearby restaurant. Most of the damage and casualties were caused within five miles (eight kilometres) of the station. The injured received treatment in hospitals.

    The explosion was the worst peacetime blast in South Korea's history. President Park Chung-Hee called an emergency Cabinet meeting and then toured the damaged area.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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