New report sheds light on roof collapse

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New report sheds light on roof collapse

Authorities investigating a roof collapse that left 10 dead at a resort gymnasium earlier this month in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang, announced yesterday that fundamental flaws in the building’s construction and design were factors in the accident.

According to an interim report issued by the police yesterday, substandard materials were used in the building’s construction, and those contracted to work on the gymnasium neglected to properly perform and carry out their responsibilities.

The insufficient way in which the main pillars were anchored was one of the primary reasons for the collapse, it said. Once the anchor bolts were connected to the main pillars, they should have been fixed in place with mortar. However, the workers apparently only used cement, which is a weaker adhesive, the North Gyeongsang Provincial Police Agency wrote in its report.

Problems were also found in the gymnasium’s design. According to the police report, the certified structural technician did not approve the blueprint or calculate correct estimates, instead giving his stamp of approval to the design company, letting them make decisions independently.

The technician received 2.5 million won ($2,341) per month over the course of the construction in exchange for looking the other way. Additionally, the construction manager reduced the number of anchor bolts from four to two without first consulting the structural technician, the police said.

The National Forensic Service also discovered during the investigation that substandard parts, including pillars and roof-supporting steel frames, were used in the construction.

According to police, the construction manager, in charge of overseeing the building process, did not perform his duties properly because he claimed he had subcontracted the structure’s steel construction, a major part of the building process, to another company.

According to the authorities, the resort also appears to be liable, particularly in light of its poor safety measures. The resort converted the gymnasium, first approved as a sports center, into an event venue without considering possible liabilities or carrying out proper inspections, the report said.

The police believe the resort violated standard regulations because 537 people were in the gymnasium at the time of the accident.

However, the structure was only capable of accommodating about 260 people.

BY KIM YOUN-HO, KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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