Police launch criminal investigation into scaffolding collapse that killed 13

By Nguyen Dung, Thanh Nien News

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The site of a scaffolding collapse that left 13 dead and 28 injured in the central province of Ha Tinh on March 25, 2015. Photo: Nguyen Dung

Police in the central province of Ha Tinh on Tuesday started a criminal investigation into a scaffolding collapse that killed 13 workers and injured 28 others on March 25, after finding signs of violations of labor safety rules.
Le Van Thong, vice director of the province’s construction department, said local agencies’ initial findings showed that the accident at the construction of a Taiwanese-invested steel mill-port complex could be caused by the failure of the scaffolding’s hydraulic lifting system.
About two-third of the system’s cylinders broke down, he said.
However, they will have to work with inspectors from the construction ministry and foreign experts to find out why the cylinders did not work, as the system used advanced and sophisticated technologies, according to Thong.
The iron structure, which was 25 meters high, 40 meters long and 35 meters wide, tumbled down last Wednesday, when around 50 workers were working on it.
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 Korean supervisor ordered them to come back to continue working.
The structure was part of the construction of a breakwater to protect the port.
Ha Tinh’s authorities have banned 48 Korean employees of contractor Samsung C&T, a subsidiary of the South Korean giant Samsung, from leaving the country. They said the move is needed for their investigation into the accident, which is deemed the second worst in Vietnam’s construction sector since 2007.
The whole complex in Vung Ang Economic Zone is invested by Taiwanese-owned Formosa Plastics Group with the initial investment of nearly $10 billion. Construction work started in July 2008.
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 the Can Tho Bridge, which connects Can Tho City and Vinh Long Province, was completed in 2010.

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