Lee Jae Myeong (1st,R) and Kim Jong Wook, employees of Samsung C&T, have been arrested. The company serves as a contractor for a Taiwanese-invested steel-mill complex in Ha Tinh, where a scaffold collapsed in March, killing 13 Vietnamese workers. Photo credit: Ha Tinh police
Police have detained two South Korean men to investigate their involvement in a scaffold collapse in March that killed 13 Vietnamese workers and injured 29 others in the central province of Ha Tinh.
Kim Jong Wook, 43 and Lee Jae Myeong, 62, who supervised the construction and the workers, are now being investigated on charges of violating labor safety rules, Ha Tinh police said on Tuesday.
These charges can lead to jail terms of up to 12 years.
Kim and Lee are both employees with Samsung C&T, a construction subsidiary of the electronics giant.
The company serves as a contractor for a Taiwanese-invested steel-mill complex in Ha Tinh, where the accident took place on March 25.
Initial information is that Kim was in charge of supervising the construction of a breakwater that day, while Lee was tasked with managing workers on two scaffold structures.
When one of the structures violently shook, sending out loud noises, workers fled the site.
Lee then allegedly ordered the workers to return and continue their work.
Police also believed that Kim was aware of the shaking, and climbed on the scaffold to check but he did not evacuate the workers.
Not long after the workers got back, the iron structure, which was 25 meters high, 40 meters long and 35 meters wide, tumbled down.
Around 50 workers were working on it, 13 of whom were killed and 28 were injured, according to official reports.
So far, local authorities have not released official conclusions on why the accident took place.
However, the province's construction authorities once told the press that it could have been caused by the failure of the hydraulic lifting system, as about two-third of the system’s cylinders were found broken down.
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 accident is deemed the second worst in Vietnam’s construction sector since 2007, when two spans of a bridge being built in the Mekong Delta collapsed, killing 55 workers and injuring 80 another.
Work on the Can Tho Bridge, which connects Can Tho City and Vinh Long Province, was completed in 2010.