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PM orders stern punishment for those responsible for gym collapse

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Published : 2014-02-20 13:32
Updated : 2014-02-20 13:40

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won ordered officials Thursday to sternly punish those responsible for the deadly collapse of a student-packed gymnasium and to devise fundamental safety measures, his office said.

On Monday, 10 people were killed and 105 others injured, as the roof of the gymnasium at a mountainside resort in Gyeongju, a tourist city 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, caved in. Some 560 incoming freshmen from the Busan University of Foreign Studies were gathered inside the building for a welcoming party.

Ministries concerned should "conduct thorough and comprehensive investigations into what caused the incident and sternly punish those responsible for it," Chung said while presiding over an emergency meeting to discuss follow-up measures.

He also instructed the land ministry to carry out an extensive safety check into structures built with the same kind of prefabricated sandwich panels as the collapsing gymnasium not only in regions hit by heavy snow but across the nation, according to the Prime Minister's Secretariat.

The gymnasium was a pre-engineered building assembled with rigid frames and side walls, which are typically used as storage units. Use of such panels saves on cost and time, but hurts safety, according to experts.

Authorities speculate that the snow that had piled up on the roof could have led to the cave-in. Affected by a strong winter storm, the Gyeongju area received snowfall of more than 50 centimeters.

Police, however, have been looking into the case while not ruling out chances that the building bore structural flaws.

To prevent a recurrence of similar incidents, it is important to boost cooperation among central and local governments, Chung stressed, calling for holding a joint meeting next week, according to his office. (Yonhap)

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