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South Korea releases Sri Lankan fire suspect

By
Wooyoung Lee
Firefighters look into the cause of a fire at a large oil storage tank in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, on Monday. Photo by Yonhap
Firefighters look into the cause of a fire at a large oil storage tank in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, on Monday. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A 27-year-old Sri Lankan man, accused of causing a blaze at an oil storage tank, was released from a police prison on Wednesday.

The man is accused of flying a paper lantern that caused an explosion and massive fire at the oil storage tank in Goyang, northwest of Seoul.

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A police investigation discovered the Sri Lankan man, who was working at a nearby construction site, flew the lantern during his break about 300 meters and it dropped on the lawn of the oil storage site, causing a massive explosion and fire that lasted more than 17 hours.

Goyang Police issued an arrest warrant for the man and kept him in a prison cell during its investigation. Criticisms have emerged toward the police and the tank operator for detaining the man.

"If an oil storage tanker blows up because of a 300 won (30 cent) lantern, it's those in charge of managing the facility that should be held responsible," said a petitioner on the presidential office website.

Choi Jeong-kyu, a legal representative of the worker, called the police decision to arrest him "shameful."

The arrest warrant was declined by the prosecutors' office.

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