Seoul Metro Ignored Faulty Signal

Passengers get off a subway train (top) and try to escape to safety after a subway collision at Sangwangsimni Station in Seoul last Friday, in these pictures posted on Instagram. Passengers get off a subway train (top) and try to escape to safety after a subway collision at Sangwangsimni Station in Seoul last Friday, in these pictures posted on Instagram.

Seoul Metro officials ignored a faulty signal system before a subway collision that left about 200 people injured, a police investigation has revealed.

The subway command center that oversees all underground rail traffic in the capital also failed to do its job properly, police said.

Police on Tuesday said a Seoul Metro official noticed a signal error on his monitor on May 2 and reported the problem to his superiors at around 3 a.m. But the manager in charge at the time ignored the error, which he considered a common glitch.

The collision took place at around 3:30 p.m. that day.

The police findings are at odds with claims from Seoul Metro president Chang Jung-woo, who told reporters on May 3 that subway workers "had not noticed" the signal error, despite regular inspections.

There are also allegations that Seoul Metro staff detected the signal error as early as April 30. One source with an oversight body said, "Seoul Metro conducts daily inspections, and it looks like they knew about the signal error on April 30."

The conflicting accounts prompted police to raid four Seoul Metro offices on Tuesday.

The revelations come hard on the heels of a deadly ferry disaster off the southwest coast on April 16 caused by flagrant disregard for passenger safety and proper procedure.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 07, 2014 12:14 KST