중앙데일리

[EDITORIALS]Don't let this happen again

Feb 19,2003
The Daegu subway disaster is extremely disturbing because it took place amid the unstable situation in our country. A man in his 50s who was disappointed with his life set fire to subway cars; at least 130 persons were killed and an equal number injured.

The man, who is being held on arson charges, suffered from a mental disorder. He reportedly had threatened to set fire to a hospital in the past. He committed an act of terror to resolve his discontent. A power failure caused by the fire took out the ventilation system and the subway cars were filled with toxic gas. The sprinkler system also failed to work. Hundreds of passengers struggled to escape from the cars in the middle of the darkness, resulting in the tremendous loss of life.

The incident reminds us of the 1995 sarin gas attack in Japan. A Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, released the poisonous gas inside subway cars; 11 persons were killed and about 5,500 were injured. After such a crime is reported through the media, copycat crimes often occur.

We must prevent the recurrence of this incident. The police should strengthen security checks at places where large numbers of people gather, such as department stores and subways. Security personnel should be assigned to each subway station to keep people from entering with dangerous substances. All materials in subway and subway cars that generate toxic gas when ablaze should be replaced; emergency power generation facility should be installed.

Most of all, passengers should be educated on evacuation in case of such emergencies, including terrorist attacks. The central government should provide proper compensation for the dead and wounded. The government should also revise the system for caring for mentally disabled people.

Everyday more than 6.4 million people use subways nationwide. It is time to draft comprehensive measures to protect passengers from a ride that could injure them or take their life.



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