No more manmade accidentsInvestigations are underway on the deadly collapse of a five-story building that feel on a bus, killing nine people and injuring eight, during a demolition project in Gwangju. The disaster was manmade due to the illicit subcontracting of the demolition work to cut costs.
After funeral procedures for the nine victims have been completed, the National Investigation Headquarters will pick up speed on the probe to identify the exact cause and who is responsible for the deadly accident. According to the findings and testimonies so far, a major accident was bound to happen as none of the basic safety actions had been taken.
Illicit subcontracting could have been the initial cause. Hyundai Industrial Development won the redevelopment project in Hakdong 4 district for 463 billion won ($414 million). The company consigned the demolition work to Hansol Corporation which then assigned it to Baeksol Construction. The demolition cost was reduced from 280,000 won per 3.3 square meters to 40,000 won, resulting in unsafe methods to cut costs.
The outline for the dismantlement the district redevelopment cooperative and Hansol submitted to the Dong District Office last month was full of flaws. A blueprint for building dismantlement requires a plan to ensure safe deconstruction and reinforcement to prevent collapse. But the outline had neither.
The dismantling process also did not pan out as planned. The two lower floors were dismantled by an excavator on a pile of dirt from the back of the building. The safety code that mandates the outer structure is removed first was not followed. Workers sprinkled water everywhere to reduce dust, making the wet ground unstable and pushing the excavator into the building to cause the collapse.
A supervisor was not present at the site to oversee the demolition process. On the day of the accident, there was no record of work procedures. There had been civilian complaints about safety for two months. The Dong District Office merely sent out a notice, but did not bother to inspect the site.
Due to this negligence, nine people are dead. Lee Jun-seok, the new leader of the opposition People Power Party went to the accident site and demanded a thorough investigation. Police investigated seven officials from the companies in charge of the demolition. The Dong District Office also must be investigated for any faults in the licensing of the project and negligence in oversight. A thorough probe and punishment should follow so that such tragic manmade accidents do not reoccur.