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Disastrous Construction-Rail Accident

Posted May. 12, 2003 22:10,   


The running train collided with a large crane which was operating near the tracks. One passenger was killed and eight passengers were wounded in the accident.

Some 600 passengers were in the 11 car train which was right above a bridge when the accident occurred. If the train had been out on the main tracks, the accident would have been much more disastrous and would have cost many more lives. The accident was yet another example of the lack of safety at construction sites.

The tower, which was connected to the swiveling crane, collided with Mugongwha train no. 210 (the driver was Lee Sang-min, 44 years old) at Hopo railroad bridge running over Yangsan River in Hopo-ri, Mulgum-eup, Yangsan-si, Gyeongsangnam-do. The train, which belonged to the Daegu train office, was bound for Seoul from Busan.

The tower broke through the ceiling of the train and windows next to passengers` seats. Seo Sang-dug (male, 19 years old, freshman at Sunggyunkwan University, from Bansong 2-dong, Haewoondae-gu, Busan) who was in car no. 1 was killed instantly. 8 passengers including Gong Eun-jae (Female, 19, freshman at Catholic University, from Bugok-dong, Geumjeong-gu, Busan) were injured with some in serious condition.

Also injured was Moon Seok-gap (52, from Yucheon-dong, Dalseo-gu, Daegu) who was seated next to Seo Sang-dug. “The iron tower of the crane and glass fragments flew onto the passenger seats with a large `bang` right after the train passed Hopo Station,” Moon explained. “Seo fell onto the floor with blood all over him after being hit by the tower. The passengers screamed out in panic.”

The accident occurred because crane operator Chang (52), who was working within 3 meters of the railroad during construction of an underpass planned to connect the Mulgum-Hwamyung road on the Kyungbu Expressway, turned the 24 meter high tower towards the railroad and hit the Mugoonghwa train, which was passing at the very same moment. Chang belongs to Bundang-based “S” Company in Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do.

Chang was removing an iron H-beam which had been placed temporarily over Yangsan River to allow for construction traffic that morning. The operator was not able to see the train because it was 10 meters below the railroad. Also, generator noise blocked the sound of the oncoming train.

Chang contended, “I moved the crane because the flagman did not appropriately notify me that a train was passing.” The flagman, Park (59 years old) had a different story. “Seeing that the train was approaching, I notified the crane driver by both voice and hand gesture,” he said.

The police gathered various statements from the field supervisor of the construction site who said he had “ordered him to turn the crane in a `down` direction because the `up` direction was too close to the railroad.”

The police plan to proceed with charges on the crane operator and the field supervisor of “H” Construction Co. if any lax safety management standards are revealed.

Seo, the only victim of the accident, was known as a person who studied hard and showed great devotion to his parents. His father (49) works in the construction field and his mother (48) works in a sewing factory.

manman@donga.com raks@donga.com