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UPDATED: 09:50, September 14, 2004
Mental patient kills 5 at asylum S. Korea
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A 47-year-old man suffering from a mental disorder killed five patients and injured five others at a privately-run center for the mentally disabled in Yesan, South Korea, Monday.

The incident took place at around 2 p.m. when the man, identified as Chon, went on a rampage by wielding a hammer-like object against his co-patients at the unauthorized mental asylum called Songnakwon, according to police.

Investigators quoted witnesses as saying that Chon committed the crime apparently out of anger after having a quarrel with other patients while moving a refrigerator.

The suspect ran away to a nearby hill immediately after the rampage. Police caught him about three hours afterwards and are trying to find out the exact cause of the incident.

The murder victims included two men and three women. They were identified as Kim Min-sop, 58, Choi Ki-ho, 58, Han Ko-rye, 60, Lee Chong-in, 74, and Kim Tong-bun, 83.

The five patients sustaining injuries were taken to nearby hospitals in Honsong and Chonan for emergency treatment. They are in a serious condition, police said.

The director of Songnakwon, identified by his surname Shin, told police that Chun and other patients had a quarrel while moving a refrigerator from a truck into the center.

"Chon disappeared for a while and then came back with an object resembling a hammer with which he attacked the other patients," Shin said.

Another inmate, identified as Song, ran away with Chon, but was caught soon after at a nearby reservoir. Police said Song's escape had nothing to do with Chon's brutal act.

It was reported that Chon had been placed in the center at the request of his sister in October last year. He was registered as disabled with the first degree of mental retardation.

Director Shin had reported Songnakwon as a retreat center for the elderly in August 2002. However, the center received conditional approval from health authorities as the number of staff and the size of facilities failed to meet the requirements for caring for the disabled, and was ordered to buy more equipment by July next year.

The center consists of one container house and a living quarters on some 100 square meters of land. A total of 17 inmates were interned, and each of them is charged a fee of 300,000 won per month for the care.

However, as a conditionally approved facility, Songnakson could not receive the health authorities' proper support and supervision.

Source: Korea Times

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