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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 15:37 GMT
History of train tunnel tragedies
Aftermath of Saint-Michel RER attack, Paris
The Paris attacks left eight dead and 200 injured
The deadly subway arson in South Korea is the latest mass loss of life from accidents and attacks on trains in tunnels around the world.

Correspondents say mass-transit subway systems generally have excellent safety records, but the presence of large numbers of people in enclosed spaces can hamper rescues efforts when problems do occur.

  • South Korean arson

    Smoke pours from ventilation shafts after the Daegu arson
    Many people were trapped in carriages engulfed in smoke and flames
    More than 100 people are now known to have died in flames and smoke after a man apparently set fire to flammable liquid inside a station in Daegu, South Korea.

    Many of the victims were trapped in carriages unable to escape, while the thousands of rescuers who rushed to the city-centre station had to battle the heat and fumes.

    The intensity of the fire - which began at the tail end of the morning rush hour on 18 February 2003 - left victims' bodies charred and entangled with each other, rescuers said.

  • Austrian inferno

    Only 12 people survived a blaze inside a funicular train in the Austrian ski resort of Kaprun in November 2000.

    A total of 155 people - most of them skiers - died when the fire started, possibly triggered by a faulty electric heater.

    Victims were trapped inside the carriages of the train which was 600 metres into the 3.2-kilometre-long (two-mile-long) mountain tunnel when the fire started.

    Prosecutors later blamed a "mosaic of mistakes" for the fire itself and the trouble encountered by people trying to escape and the rescuers who were trying to reach them.

  • Paris targeted

    In July 1995, the French capital's rail system was hit repeatedly by bombers.

    The worst attack happened on 25 July at the Saint-Michel suburban railway (RER) station.

    A gas bottle packed with explosives and nails was detonated, causing horrific injuries to many passengers.

    Other devices were planted at the Maison Blanche metro and Musee d'Orsay RER stations.

    In all, eight people died and more than 200 were injured.

    Two members of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group were found guilty of taking part in the attacks and jailed for life.

  • Tokyo attack

    Aftermath of Tokyo subway gas attack
    Poison gas was pumped into the Tokyo subway

    Four months earlier, in March 1995, members of the Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas into the subway system of Japan's capital.

    Twelve people died and about 5,000 more were taken ill as the nerve agent spread.

    Several members of the cult were subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

  • Azerbaijan bombs

    In 1994, the metro system of Baku, the capital city of the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, came under attack.

    In separate incidents several months apart, bombs were detonated on trains.

    The attacks, blamed on a northern separatist group, left at least 20 dead and scores injured.

  • London fire

    A discarded match was blamed for the blaze in London's King's Cross underground station which killed 31 people in November 1987.

    Destroyed escalators after the King's Cross fire
    King's Cross escalators caught fire, trapping people underground
    Hundreds of commuters were using the key interchange station when the fire broke out towards the end of the evening rush hour.

    Wooden escalators caught fire, trapping passengers underground.

    The heat was so intense that it damaged concrete walls and fire officers took hours to bring the blaze under control.

  • Moorgate crash

    The worst London Underground disaster happened on 28 February 1975 when a train failed to stop and smashed into a dead-end tunnel.

    The cause of the crash - which killed 43 people - remains unknown.

    The train failed to stop but the driver had been in good health and had not taken any alcohol or drugs. He was known as a careful and conscientious driver.

    About 70 other passengers were also injured in the crash which left the front three carriages crushed into the rear of the train.

  • See also:

    18 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
    18 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
    Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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