Desperate rescue effort ends in tragedy

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Desperate rescue effort ends in tragedy


Emergency crews try to find a worker, Kim Seong-tae, 45, with a search dog and endoscope cameras underneath a collapsed building in Cheonho-dong, eastern Seoul, yesterday. Kim was found at 3:30 p.m. His co-worker, Lee Hyung-cheol, 58, died earlier in the morning due to excessive bleeding. [NEWSIS]

Despite a desperate, 16-hour effort to free a construction worker trapped in wreckage after a building collapsed in Seoul on Wednesday, he died an hour after being freed.

The third floor of a three-story commercial building undergoing renovation collapsed Wednesday, burying two workers in Cheonho-dong, eastern Seoul. Rescuers were still trying to free the second worker yesterday.

According to the Gangdong District Fire Department, the building collapsed at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, with the wreckage crashing into the second and first floor.

The worker who died was identified as Lee Hyung-cheol, 58; the one still trapped is Kim Seong-tae, 45.

The rescue team found Lee after searching through the wreckage for about four hours. But after another 12 frantic hours of trying to free Lee - which included emergency surgery to amputate part of his leg so he could be removed - he eventually died from excessive bleeding.

The second victim, Kim, was located face down amid the wreckage by a search dog at about 3:30 p.m. yesterday - 24 hours after the collapse. Rescuers were still trying to extricate him from the scene and it could not be confirmed at press time whether Kim was dead or alive.

A fire department official said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the collapse amid speculation that the reason was related to the stability of the building or to a technical mishap.

The official said there were 13 workers in the building at the time of the collapse. Lee and Kim, who had been repairing the sewer system on the first floor, were unable to escape.

The rescue team found Lee alive at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday after hearing his voice and managed to give him rehydration fluids through an intravenous line they inserted into his hand, another fire department official said.

Medical personnel determined, however, that Lee would not be able to be freed from the wreckage without amputating part of his leg and emergency surgery was performed yesterday morning.

Rescuers freed Lee from the wreckage at about 6:30 a.m. and he was rushed to Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital of Hallym University Medical Center in Seoul. However, Lee was pronounced dead one hour later.

The Gangdong District Office told the Korea JoongAng Daily yesterday that the remodeling was not reported to officials because the building’s owner believed the renovations were small-scale in nature and did not require notification.

However, the officials said they found evidence that the workers tried to change some major structures, including columns and ceilings.

If they find evidence of major changes to the building without the proper approval having been gained, officials said, the owner will be punished.

By Nam Hyung-suk, Kwon Sang-soo []

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
천호동 상가 매몰자 이씨 끝내 숨져

서울 강동구 천호동 상가 건물에 매몰됐다 구조된 인부 이모(58)씨가 병원으로 옮겨졌으나 끝내 숨졌다.

21일 소방당국 등에 따르면 이씨는 매몰 약 15시간 만인 이날 오전 6시40분 구조돼 병원으로 옮겨졌으나 과다출혈로 오전 7시44분 사망했다.

이씨는 구조 당시 현장에서 수술을 받아 한쪽 다리는 절단됐고 다른 한쪽은 콘크리트 무게로 으스러진 상태였으며, 심장마비 증세를 보여 심폐소생술을 받았다.

소방당국은 이씨의 다리를 짓누르고 있던 콘크리트가 치워지면서 출혈량이 급속히 많아졌다고 전했다.

또다른 매몰자인 인부 김모(45)씨의 생사 여부는 아직 확인되지 않았다.

이씨와 김씨는 전날 오후 3시42분께 리모델링 공사 중이던 건물의 일부가 무너져 내리면서 매몰됐다.

소방당국은 김씨를 구조하기 위해 현재도 건물 잔해를 치우는 작업을 계속하고 있다.
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