Go to contents

Busan Shooting Range Fire Claims 10 Lives

Posted November. 16, 2009 08:32,   


Twenty relatives of the eight Japanese victims of Saturday’s fire at an indoor shooting range in Busan arrived at Yangsan Busan National University Hospital yesterday.

Unlike the bereaved families of the Korean victims who wept loudly, the Japanese families remained largely silent with only intermittent sobs. They could not hide their mournful expressions after seeing the victims at the hospital.

Okubo Shinichi, who lost his 37-year-old son Akira, said, “I cannot believe my son is dead.”

He also urged Korean government officials, including Prime Minister Chung Un-chan who visited the hospital, to identify the cause of the fire to prevent a recurrence. Other families met the director of Hana Hospital, where the injured were being treated, and saw the patients at intensive care units with grave faces.

Thirty-one relatives of the Japanese victims who were either killed or injured from the fire and 11 others including tour guides arrived in Busan in the afternoon via an express ship. Another group of bereaved families arrived later in the afternoon.

They went to the respective hospitals where their family members were placed or hospitalized. They then visited the site of the fire at the Ganadara shooting range in Arirang town in Busan’s International Market.

The fire broke out at 2:26 p.m. Saturday and killed 10, including eight Japanese tourists, while seriously injuring six. There were many Japanese victims because the indoor shooting range was a popular destination for Japanese tourists.

Busan authorities officially announced that eight of the 10 victims were Japanese nationals. The other two victims were believed to be a 40-year-old female guide of KR Tour, Lee Myeong-sook, and a male employee of the shooting range.

The bodies of the victims were all placed at the hospital in Yangsan. Six people including three Japanese were injured, with five of them being treated at Hana and another at Dong-A University Hospital.

The fire hit the front pages of major Japanese newspapers, which blasted the lack of safety measures at shooting ranges in Korea and the absence of fire prevention facility.

The Asahi Shimbun said, “Though the shooting range underwent safety inspection by police and fire authorities in June, nothing wrong was found. This indicates that Korea has loose regulations on fire prevention and control.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun said the shooting range had no windows and provided just two emergency exits including the entrance.

silent@donga.com toto@donga.com