Thick Fog To Blame in 100 Car Freeway Pile Up

kpopluv, Feb. 12, 2015, 9:49 a.m.

Thick fog on the airport road on Thursday caused a mass pileup that killed two and injured 63.  Among the injured in the pileup involving more than 100 cars were 18 foreigners from China, Japan, the Philippines, Switzerland, Thailand and Vietnam. One Vietnamese and one Japanese were seriously hurt. 

The bridge where the accident happened is part of a freeway that leads to Incheon International Airport, the nation's main air traffic gateway.  The bridge was cordoned off for five hours as police and emergency rescue workers sifted through the twisted wreckage. The pileup is believed to have been caused by a collision of two taxis. 

One of the cabs veered into the second lane following the collision and crashed into an airport shuttle bus, which in turn caused scores of cars behind to crash.  The bridge was blanketed in thick fog with visibility of less than 10 m when the accident happened. It leads over a stretch of ocean and is often blanketed by fog. 

Police suspect speeding was the main reason so many cars crashed.  New Airport Highway, which operates the freeway, set up no electronic bulletin boards on the bridge alerting drivers to frequent fog, claiming the bridge could not withstand the weight of the massive signs and heavy winds might knock them over.

Instead, the operator said it had up three bulletin boards along a 7 km stretch of the freeway warning drivers of fog or other risks. It said warnings were posted on the morning of the disaster.  Officials in Incheon also failed to install fog detection devices on the bridge. Instead, the Korea Meteorological Administration operates sensors on the rooftop of its Incheon branch. 

A KMA spokesman said, "Due to the high price tag of the visibility meters, which cost W10-20 million each, we are operating only 98 across the nation and it is not easy to install them in some locations that are prone to fog (US$1=W1,100)."

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