Police to send 8 people to prosecution over deadly building collapse

GWANGJU-- Police will send to the prosecution eight employees of HDC Hyundai Development Co. deemed responsible for the fatal collapse of a building under construction in the southwestern city of Gwangju early this year, officials said Friday.

Outer wall structures of the 39-story apartment building in the city, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, crumbled on Jan 11, leaving six workers dead and another injured. Official probes found it was caused by poor safety management and lax supervision by HDC Hyundai, the project's contractor.

The Gwangju Metropolitan Police Agency said it will forward the company and its eight employees to the prosecution on charges of negligent homicide, and violations of construction and occupational safety laws. Three of them were arrested last week.

Probes by a Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport team, and the state-run Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency blamed inappropriate safety measures, arbitrary changes in floor construction and use of faulty concrete for the collapse.

The police will transfer more suspects to the prosecution later, including two employees of HDC Hyundai's subcontractor in the project and one construction supervisor, officials said. The three were arrested this week.

Gwangju police have been investigating 20 people directly involved in the construction. The agency is scheduled to announce the result of the inquiry Monday.

The police will continue to look into HDC Hyundai headquarters' responsibility for the accident and possible irregularities in the project's contract and approval, police said.

The accident came six months after the collapse of a five-story building in the same city during a demolition project managed by HDC Hyundai. Nine people were killed, and eight others were injured in the accident.

Chung Mong-gyu, chairman of the nation's ninth-largest builder, stepped down in January, taking responsibility for the incidents.

Source: Yonhap News Agency