Faulty tower

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  People look at the Nam Dinh television tower, which collapsed due to Typhoon Son Tinh in Nam Dinh Town, 100 km (62 miles) south of Hanoi October 29, 2012. The typhoon struck Vietnam on Sunday, causing heavy winds and rainstorms, according to local reports. Photo: Reuters

The builder of a television tower that collapsed during a typhoon last weekend may have skirted technical standards by reducing the structure's resistance to strong winds in order to cut costs.

The 180-meter-high Nam Dinh television tower in the eponymous northern province collapsed at around 8:40 p.m. in Nam Dinh Town, 100 km (62 miles) south of Hanoi due to wind and rain unleashed by Typhoon Son Tinh last Sunday.

A Nam Dinh Radio and Television (NTV) employee was slightly injured in the collapse.

No other damages were reported as the tower wasn't located very close to many other structures, Tran Anh Tu, NTV director, told Vietweek.

The tower was the highest in the southern Red River Delta (Nam Dinh, Thai Binh, Ninh Binh and Ha Nam provinces). It broadcasted three Vietnam Television (VTV) channels throughout the region.

The collapse interrupted TV broadcasting, which had not been resumed as of press time.

Following the incident, NTV blamed strong winds for the collapse. However, construction experts questioned the quality of the tower, which is estimated to be worth VND40 billion (US$1.9 million).

An expert who spoke on condition of anonymity told Vietweek that regulations require that a television tower be built to withstand winds of 180 kilometers per hour, but NTV had planned for a capacity of only 120 kilometers per hour in its bidding invitation in 2006.

Winds in Nam Dinh the night the tower collapsed reached 133km/hr.

A Nam Dinh television tower sale contract signed September 13, 2006, between NTV and Vietnam Multimedia Corporation (VTC), also said the tower was designed to endure wind speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour.

Construction experts said the reduction of wind protection reduces the cost of building a television tower.

On Tuesday, NTV director Tu told Vietweek he could not remember the details of the sale contract when asked if the company had reduced the structure's capacity to withstand wind.

The National Committee for Floods and Storms Prevention and Control reported that the typhoon killed seven people in the north on Sunday, leaving five missing and injuring 43.

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