South Korea building collapses during demolition, killing nine

Firefighters carrying out rescue operations after a five-storey building collapsed, burying a bus with passengers in the city of Gwangju, South Korea, yesterday.
Firefighters carrying out rescue operations after a five-storey building collapsed, burying a bus with passengers in the city of Gwangju, South Korea, yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL • At least nine people were killed when a five-storey building collapsed suddenly while being demolished and debris fell onto a busy street in South Korea, officials at a local fire station said.

The building collapsed yesterday, burying a bus that was stopped at a station near the construction site in Gwangju, a city some 270km south-west of the capital Seoul, officials at the Gwangju Fire and Safety Headquarters said.

The reason for the collapse was unclear, according to station officials, who said they received a report of the incident, which took place at around 8.25pm local time.

Apart from nine bus passengers who died, eight were seriously injured and taken to hospital.

The firefighters initially assumed there were 12 people on the bus, but found more people trapped inside as the rescue operation went on.

Mr Yang Ik-je, who runs a shop nearby, told The Korea Herald he ran outside after being jolted by a loud noise that made him feel as if "the earth was shaking".

"I could not see the road clearly, as if it were shrouded in thick fog," he said. "I checked the CCTV to find out that the building collapsed onto a bus."

South Korea has been known to have had a bad safety record when it comes to infrastructure.

A department store collapse killed more than 500 people in 1995, and a bridge collapse in 1994 killed 49 people.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2021, with the headline 'South Korea building collapses during demolition, killing nine'. Subscribe