|Yoo Byeong-gyu, front, chief of HDC Hyundai Development Company, and the company's other executives bow in apology, Wednesday, at the construction site of an apartment complex in Gwangju, for the partial collapse the previous day of an apartment building which the company has been building. Yonhap|
By Bahk Eun-ji
The Gwangju Metropolitan Government has ordered a halt on all construction ongoing by HDC Hyundai Development Company in the city, following the partial collapse of an apartment building, Tuesday, the second deadly building collapse attributed to the developer in the southwestern city in about seven months.
Rescue authorities resumed search operations for six missing workers, Wednesday.
The suspension of construction came a day after the exterior wall of the apartment building between the 28th and 34th floors crumbled at 3:46 p.m. Three workers trapped in a container below were rescued, and one of them was hospitalized for injuries.
The city government said, Wednesday, it ordered suspension of all construction projects being carried out by the company. HDC is currently building apartments in three locations in downtown Gwangju, and they were scheduled to be completed between July and October this year.
"We'll investigate the cause of the collapse in cooperation with the police and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and hold the company accountable for all legal and administrative responsibilities in order to root out any safety issues at their construction sites," a city official said.
The regional police agency, prosecutors' office and labor office in Gwangju will also form a joint investigation team.
President Moon Jae-in also ordered a thorough investigation of the accident during a meeting with his aides.
"He ordered a thorough investigation into the fundamental cause of the recent series of safety accidents," presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said.
Yoo Byeong-gyu, chief executive of the developer, apologized for the collapse.
"We deeply apologize to the missing workers, their families and the citizens of Gwangju who suffered from the unfortunate accident that occurred at the construction site," Yoo said.
Admitting the company's responsibility for the accident, Yoo said, "At the moment, the search and rescue work for the missing workers is the most urgent task, and we will work closely with relevant agencies such as the fire department, the land ministry and the Gwangju local government to find them."
|The remains of a collapsed apartment building in Gwangju are seen from above, Tuesday / Yonhap|
Rescue and investigative authorities suspect the accident occurred when the formwork for poured concrete collapsed and a tower crane was damaged due to strong wind that day.
HDC is under additional heavy criticism, because it was also responsible for a redevelopment project in the city, where a building collapsed during demolition last June 9. At the time a five-story building undergoing demolition toppled over onto a nearby road, landing on a bus that was stopped at a bus stop, resulting in nine deaths and eight seriously injured.
Nine people were indicted at the time, but only one was an HDC official and the others were subcontractors, causing criticism that the developer was avoiding responsibility.
Rescue work searching for the missing workers had been halted Tuesday evening over concerns of additional collapse, but was resumed Wednesday morning after safety checks. Six rescue dogs and drones were mobilized.