PyeongChang Cancels Torch Relay Stop Out of Respect

(ATR) Also: High speed rail linking Incheon to Gangneung opens to the public.

(ATR) Today’s Olympic Torch Relay in Jecheon was canceled by organizers following a catastrophic fire that left at least 29 dead.

The fire started the night of Dec. 21 at an eight-story sports center in Jecheon, a city 75 miles southeast of Seoul. Firefighters in the city told local media that the fire spread rapidly with toxic smoke trapping people inside. The building has a public sauna, fitness center, and restaurants, according to authorities.

"[Officials] felt it wasn’t appropriate to have a city celebration there," a PyeongChang 2018 spokesperson told Around the Rings.

A day after the fire South Korean President Jae In Moon made a surprise trip to Jecheon to meet with firefighters and be briefed on the situation.

"A tragic accident has occurred and as president, I feel miserable," Moon said as reported by Yonhap. "Not only I but all our people share the grief and sadness.

"The government will thoroughly find out the cause of this accident and review its handling of the tragedy. I will make sure the accident is thoroughly investigated so that at least no regrets will be left behind."

The 2018 Torch Relay will resume on Dec. 23 in Danyang County, just south of Jecheon.

High Speed Rail Opens

The Incheon to Gangneung high speed rail is open to the public.

"The new line puts Gangneung only two hours away from Seoul, and LTE-R will make the journey for PyeongChang visitors a much safer and reliable experience," Yi Han Kim, KT head of enterprise business unit, said in a statement to Fortune.

Trains will run from Incheon international airport to Gangneung on South Korea’s opposite coast. The trip between the two cities is now around two hours. A bus from Gangneung to Incheon normally takes just over four hours.

Organizers originally planned for athletes to travel to the 2018 Winter Olympics by high speed rail, but that plan was scrapped for logistical reasons. Athletes will now take chartered buses with their gear to go to the Olympic Villages.

During the Olympics the train will travel 52 times a day, each with a capacity of 410 passengers. However, at peak travel times Incheon airport can receive up to 12,000 passengers per hour. One way tickets from Incheon Airport to Gangneung is priced at $38, while a ticket from Seoul to Gangneung is priced at $24.

Written by Aaron Bauer

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