Authorities in the central province of Ha Tinh have confirmed that 13 people died and 28 others were injured in a scaffolding collapse on Wednesday, as rescuers finished clearing the massive rubble of the worst construction accident since 2007.
In a report to the government, the province’s labor department said the accident at the construction site of a steel plant-port complex invested by Taiwanese-owned Formosa Plastics Group could be caused by some problem in a hydraulic system.
It is still unclear how and by whom the system was operated in the scaffolding, which was part of the construction of a breakwater to protect the port.
The province’s authorities are working with government agencies to further investigate the cause of the collapse.
Contractor Samsung C&T, a subsidiary of the South Korea's Samsung, in a statement issued on Thursday pledged to take responsibility for the accident, provide support to the victims, and assist authorities during the investigation.
Local media reported that the Vietnamese workers were from a sub-contractor hired by Samsung C&T.
Early signs ignored
Around 50 workers were working on the scaffolding which was 25 meters high, 40 meters long and 35 meters wide, when it tumbled down on Wednesday night.
Some survivors told local media that about 30 minutes before the collapse, the scaffolding shook strongly. Many of them ran away, but a few minutes later their foreign supervisor ordered them to come back to continue working.
The most recent catastrophe at this scale took place on September 26, 2007, when two spans of a bridge which was being built in the Mekong Delta collapsed, killing 55 workers and injured 80 others.
Work on Can Tho Bridge, which connects Can Tho City and Vinh Long Province, was completed in 2010.
Formosa launched work on the complex in Vung Ang Economic Zone in July 2008 with the initial investment of nearly $10 billion. As of December last year, the project has recruited around 40,000 laborers, nearly 5,700 of whom are Chinese.
Early this month the government inspectorate found that managers at the Vung Ang Economic Zone went beyond their authority and broke quite a few rules when offering too many incentives to Formosa.
Among the violations, according to the inspectorate, the Formosa complex was illegally licensed for a 70-year period, even though Vietnam's investment law states that a foreign-invested project must not last more than 50 years.