Death Toll Rises in Shipyard Crane Accident
Another worker who was injured in the collapse of a crane at Samsung Heavy Industries' Geoje yard has died of his wounds, bringing the accident's death toll to six.
On Monday afternoon, a tower crane at Geoje was lifting a large object when it collided with a gantry crane and collapsed onto a break area, which was a frequent gathering place for up to 100 contractors and shipyard employees at a time. More than 20 workers were injured and five were killed at the scene.
“People that were struck by the fallen object and crane were for the most part killed,” said Kim Dong-gwon, chief of the Geoje Fire Department, speaking to Korea JoongAng Daily. “It seems those who were merely injured were struck by the metal chain.”
The break area was located on the deck of a new $500 million oil platform that Samsung is building for Total's Norwegian subsidiary. Total told media on Monday that none of its employees were hurt in the collapse, and that it does not yet know the extent of any damage or delivery delay the accident may have caused.
Through a spokesman, SHI president and CEO Park Dae-young apologized to the families of the victims. “I would like to express my sincerest sympathy and apology to the bereaved families and to those who suffered injuries,” said VP Kim Hyo-seop, speaking on Park's behalf to a press conference on Tuesday. “I will make every effort to prevent such accidents by eliminating any potential future dangers throughout the shipyard so that the lives lost will not be in vain," he said (as reported by the Korea Herald).
Kim Hyo-seop, the head of the yard, told Korea JoongAng Daily that the collision could have occurred because operating procedures were not followed correctly. “We are seeing this as an accident that arose due to signals not done properly between the crane operators and signalers,” he said. Police have opened an investigation into the factors behind the accident, to include the possibility of human error and issues related to regulatory compliance.
The Geoje yard, Samsung's largest facility, produces high-end ships like LNG carriers, FPSOs and ULCVs. Samsung is proud of the yard's productivity, asserting that it has the highest dock turnover rate in the world. In a regulatory filing Tuesday, the shipbuilder said that local authorities have ordered it to halt production at Geoje while the investigation continues. SHI did not give a timetable for the resumption of operations.