Watch CBSN Live

S. Korea Subway Death Climbs To 182

The death toll from a South Korean subway fire rose to 182 on Wednesday after forensic experts found more remains in the debris of the two scorched trains, officials said.

South Korean authorities investigating the Feb. 18 blaze formally arrested the alleged arsonist and six subway officials, and fired the head of the subway corporation on Tuesday.

Forensic experts examining the ashen debris of the trains have collected a total of 128 sets of unidentified remains, in addition to the 54 bodies previously recovered, said Choi Chong-hoon, an official at the Central Disaster Center.

Until Wednesday, the center had estimated a death toll of 133.

Monday, police arrested 10 people in connection with the blaze.

Those under arrested include nine subway workers charged with negligent manslaughter, reports CBS Newsman Don Kirk, as well as the man who admits starting the fire by setting a can of paint thinner ablaze with a cigarette lighter.

The 10 suspects were detained late Sunday and early Monday, said Lt. Choi Woong-ju of the Daegu city police department. Two of the subway officials and the arson suspect remain hospitalized with injuries from the Feb. 18 fire.

The fire quickly engulfed a six-car train and then spread to another train which had pulled into the station a few minutes later. The actions of train operators who allowed the second train to arrive are being investigated, and police said they will also look into suspicions that the subway corporation tried to cover up or destroy evidence of a possibly bungled response.

Authorities intend to file charges of negligent manslaughter — an offense that carries a maximum of five years in prison — against the nine officials, another police officer said on condition of anonymity.

The main suspect who allegedly started the fire faces a charge of manslaughter by arson and could be executed if found guilty, the official said.

There is no limit on how long suspects can be detained after a warrant application is filed with a court. However, judges usually respond to such requests within 24 hours.

Most of the victims were passengers on the second train whose conductor allegedly fled without opening the doors, leaving victims trapped in the flames. Police said that of the six cars in that train, the doors were open on only two of them.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue