At least three workers are believed to be still buried in the massive rubble of a tragic scaffolding collapse that already killed 15 and injured around 30 others in the central province of Ha Tinh on Wednesday night, the contractor told Thanh Nien News.
Questions remain over the actual number of victims. Survivors said some 100 workers were at the construction site when the accident happened around 8:30 p.m., with half of them on the scaffolding.
About 500 rescuers are working around the clock to retrieve the missing and have so far removed 70 percent of the rubble that covered around 1,000 square meters at the Ha Tinh Steel Complex & Son Duong Port, invested by Taiwanese-owned Formosa Plastics Group.
The iron structure, which was at least 30 meters high and weighed thousands of metric tons before collapsing, was part of the construction of a breakwater to protect the port.
Samsung C&T, a subsidiary of the South Korean-owned Samsung, is the contractor.
All the victims are Vietnamese hired by a subcontracting company based in the central city of Da Nang.
Only two of the injured victims who are being treated at the Ha Tinh General Hospital are conscious; most others are in critical conditions, national broadcaster Vietnam Television reported on Thursday morning.
It quoted one of the survivors as saying that about one hour before the accident, workers reported to their supervisor that the scaffolding was shaking, but were told to continue with their work.
The contractor has offered to pay VND30 million (US$1,300) in financial support to each dead victim, and cover all treatment costs for the injured, according to VTV.
Work started on the Formosa 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 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.
Vietnam's investment law states that a foreign-invested project must not last more than 50 years, and if necessary, the government may extend the length of the project for 20 more years. The government, however, has not given any extension to the Formosa project yet.