Struck by oncoming train, maintenance worker dies

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Struck by oncoming train, maintenance worker dies

A 28-year-old on-duty maintenance worker died Saturday evening at Gangnam Station in southern Seoul when he was struck by an oncoming train after getting stuck between the platform doors and the train.

The police said the victim, surnamed Jo, an employee of a subway maintenance company, was hit by an oncoming train at around 7:25 p.m. on Saturday. He died at the scene.

Police later discovered that the victim had been working alone at the time of the accident, in violation of the safety guidelines put forth by Seoul Metro, the subway operator.

According to the operator, the maintenance company received a report around 6:41 p.m. that there was a malfunction with the platform doors.

“Typically, [maintenance workers] aren’t supposed to repair the screen door from the inside,” a Seoul Metro official said. “Neither the maintenance company nor Jo informed us to halt the trains, so we don’t know how he ended up working there alone.”

After an inspector was killed in January 2013 at Seongsu Station while doing a check on the platform door sensors, Seoul Metro requested that maintenance subcontractors follow a revised set of safety guidelines.

The rules mandate that two people must work together at all times when working on the platform doors, that workers only work outside of the doors during subway operation hours and that they report to the station before working inside the door.

Platform doors have been in place since 2005 to prevent passengers from getting too close to oncoming trains. Most of the stations in Seoul currently have doors.

Perhaps most shocking about Saturday’s accident, however, was that witnesses on the platform did nothing to try to help the victim, while some even snapped photos.

The incident over the weekend parallels a series of similar accidents that prompted concerns over public safety and subway maintenance. In September, an 80-year-old woman died after getting pulled into the space between the train and platform doors at Isu Station. Police later discovered that she had stuck her cane between the train doors and that the driver had started the train without checking whether the doors were properly closed.

Similarly, in December 2013, an 84-year-old woman got stuck between the train doors at Gwacheon Government Complex Station, though it was not detected by the sensor. She was dragged along with the train and died after hitting her head.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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