A subway accident in Seoul was caused by a faulty signal to proceed. While the incident did not prove deadly, it struck a nerve with a population already outraged over public safety in the wake of a tragic ferry sinking.
The subway train collision was caused by a faulty "go-ahead" signal, the operator said on Saturday.
"Normally, the signal should be given in the order of 'stop' and then 'caution.' But at the time of the accident the signal was given in the order of 'stop,' and then 'go-ahead'," said Chang Jung-woo, CEO of Seoul Metro.
Operations on the South Korean capital's subway line were brought to a halt temporarily on Friday after a collision. One subway car crashed into the back of another due to a mechanical error, according to a preliminary investigation by authorities. Nearly 200 passengers on board sustained minor injuries, according to the local fire department.
Subway officials said that a malfunction in the train's automatic distance control system had most likely led to the crash, which occurred near the eastern station of Sangwangsimni on one of the city's largest subway lines.
The delay in rescue efforts caused the most concern among those affected by the accident, who said that roughly a half an hour had passed before the station made an announcement about the incident.
"[The subway car] stopped suddenly…and everyone screamed," passenger Lee Dong-hyun told the Associated Press news agency. Lee added that their only exit had been damaged, leaving them trapped in the car.
Others on board also told reporters that they had been forced to break open doors and jump onto the tracks to escape to safety.
The South Korean government has received heavy criticism in recent weeks over a ferry disaster that left more than 300 people dead or missing. Critics accuse Seoul of failing to implement or uphold rigorous safety standards, which could have prevented the tragedy.
kms,rc/jm (AP, dpa)