중앙데일리

Condolences are pouring in

More than 300 are still listed as missing in blaze

Feb 24,2003
Thousands of messages from across the nation and around the globe filled the city of Daegu’s official Web site over the weekend. They offered condolence and comfort to families of the victims of the subway arson attack. Daegu residents kept a candlelight vigil outside the Jungangno subway station, the site of the deadly fire, which was open to the public yesterday for the first time since the incident last Tuesday.
Candlelight vigils have also been held each night since the accident at Gwanghwamun in central Seoul.
“I wish there was some way that the sadness people around the world feel about this tragedy could bring the victims back to life with their families,” wrote a person from the United States using the screen name “Tucker.”
“To all the people who are suffering and grieving, my wife and I humbly express our deepest and sincerest condolences.”
The city government received more than 180 enquiries and messages from abroad through phone calls, e-mails and messages posted to the city’s English bulletin board, which normally has almost no activity, said the English-language site Webmaster, Yang Suk-young.
Notable among the condolence messages were responses from Manhattan residents, one of whom identified himself as “Salem Krieger.” “I just wanted to send a note from New York City to the people of South Korea as we also know the sadness of having a tragic event happen,” he wrote.
Patrick Le, who identified himself as “a subway planner in San Jose, California,” criticized the operation controllers of the subway station, saying they must be held responsible.
Meanwhile, Web users here are encouraging each other to use black ribbon emoticons ― online symbols used to express various emotions ― in front of their screen names. The same emoticons were used to mourn the deaths of two local girls who were crushed by a U.S. armored vehicles last June.
Offline, Daegu residents stayed home for the most part. Restaurants, department stores, karaoke clubs and other spots that would normally be packed were nearly empty.
At 10 a.m. on Sunday the city took one minute to memorialize the victims of the arson attack. Drivers honked their horns, church bells tolled and flags at public buildings were flown at half-mast. About 2,500 residents gathered at the Daegu Citizens Center, where they left letters and flowers at a makeshift memorial alter.
“I wanted to comfort the souls of the victims and teach my children about the indifference toward safety in our society,” said Lee Gwang-young, a Daegu resident who visited the site with his two children.
Oh Jong-tae, who has been passing out candles and incense to visitors to the Jungangno subway station, said people have flocked to the area at all hours of the day and night to mourn since the fire.
While members of the victims families mourned, the National Institute of Scientific Investigation said yesterday that the death toll is expected reach 200. The institute said it found an additional 70 corpses in train No. 1080, which was set ablaze after stopped at the platform opposite the train where the fire was set.
A total of 534 missing persons reports came in to the rescue command center from people looking for their missing relatives on the day of the fire. Of those being sought, 144 have returned home, 22 were found dead and 2 injured. The 20 are overlapped reports made by some families. The remaining 346 are still unaccounted for. But the police said the number is a bit inflated.
“I envy the families who are able to hold a funeral,” said one man who was waiting at the rescue center for word on a member of his family who had still not been accounted for.


by Special Reporting Team


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