South Korean rescuers have resumed their search to locate six missing workers believed to be trapped at a partially collapsed construction site in the southern city of Gwangju.
Around ten vehicles were destroyed and dozens of households and nearby shops were forced to evacuate following the collapse of an upper part of a high-rise apartment building that was under construction in the Hwajeongdong district of the city.
The incident on Tuesday afternoon left piles of debris to spill into nearby streets.
Rescuers rescued three workers, including two who had been trapped in a shipping container pounded by rubble, but their operations were halted hours later, fearing the 39-story structure would collapse further.
Following a security inspection involving government and private experts and camera-equipped drones that flew over the collapsed exterior of the building, which now exposes mutilated steel beams, rescuers were seen returning to the site with search dogs Wednesday afternoon.
Gwangju Mayor Lee Yong-seop said inspectors concluded it was safe enough for rescuers to enter the interior floors of the building. However, inspectors were concerned about areas close to the structure’s crumbled exterior, which Lee said would primarily be searched by drones and dogs.
Officials said 394 workers were employed at the construction site, including the six who remained out of contact after the crash.
Lee and other officials did not specifically mention the possibility of the workers being found alive.
The municipal government has suspended all construction work underway in Gwangju by HDC Hyundai Development, the main contractor of the Hwajeongdong apartment project, as it opens an investigation into the cause of the accident.
Gwangju was the scene of a fatal accident in June last year, when a five-story building being demolished collapsed and threw debris on a bus, killing nine people on board.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered authorities to investigate the cause of Tuesday’s collapse and called for tougher safety measures to prevent similar accidents, his office said.