Two subway trains collided in the South Korean capital Seoul today, injuring more than 170 people but with no reported fatalities, emergency services said.

News of the accident broke as the country still reels from the ferry disaster that has left around 300 people dead or missing, most of them schoolchildren, after the boat capsized and sank on 16 April.

The ferry tragedy has triggered widespread public anger and a bout of national soul-searching as to whether South Korea- sacrificed safety standards in its rush for development.

Briefing reporters, fire department official Kim Kyung-Soo said 172 people had been injured in the train collision, none of them seriously.

The accident happened around 3.30pm (6.30am Irish time) when a moving train slammed into the rear of a stationary train at Sangwangsimni station in eastern Seoul.

Around 1,000 people were evacuated from the two trains, Mr Kim said, adding that many of those hurt had complained of ankle injuries, cuts and bruises.

According to a senior Seoul Metro official, initial investigations suggested the automated stopping system that should prevent a train getting too close to another appeared to have failed.

The tunnel curves before entering Sangwangsimni station and the official said the driver of the moving train did not see the platform was occupied until quite late.

He applied the emergency break, but the distance was "too short" to avoid a collision, he said.