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South Korea building collapse that killed nine to be investigated, Seoul says

Firefighters carry out rescue operations after a five-story building collapsed and fell on a bus Wednesday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
Firefighters carry out rescue operations after a five-story building collapsed and fell on a bus Wednesday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

June 10 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered a swift and thorough investigation into the cause of a building collapse in Gwangju, the country's sixth-largest city and a ruling-party stronghold, that killed at least nine and seriously injured eight.

Moon, who is to travel to Britain for the G7 summit in Cornwall, said Thursday through his spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee that he is determined to find out the root cause of the building collapse, KBS reported.

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"President Moon ordered the police and related agencies, including the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and find out who was responsible," Park said in a written briefing.

Park said the president ordered agencies to check whether safety measures were taken before demolition. The five-story structure was being taken apart when it unexpectedly collapsed onto a bus, killing passengers on board

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The presidential office mentioned evidence that the road by the building was open to cars despite demolition work. That decision was the cause of deaths, Park said.

Gwangju Fire and Safety Headquarters said the accident occurred Wednesday afternoon. The bus had stopped next to the site when the building collapsed, Al Jazeera reported.

The bus had 17 people on board who were hit by falling debris and overwhelmed by dust, the report said.

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Eyewitnesses told Yonhap they could feel the "earth shaking" and that the collapse culminated in a "thick fog" in surrounding areas.

Opposition and ruling party politicians expressed their condolences Thursday and called for a meticulous investigation into the cause, local network MBC reported.

Ruling Democratic Party spokesman Kim Jin-wook said there is evidence the demolition supervisor knew "in advance" of the building's pending collapse but they did not order an evacuation, the report said.

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In 2019, a five-story building in southern Seoul collapsed into a road, killing one person.

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