22 face charges over S Korea fatal rooftop collapse

2014-03-27 07:38
A general view shows the scene of a collapsed building at the Mauna Ocean Resort in Gyeongju, in South Korea's south eastern Gyeongsang Province. (Yonhap, AFP)

A general view shows the scene of a collapsed building at the Mauna Ocean Resort in Gyeongju, in South Korea's south eastern Gyeongsang Province. (Yonhap, AFP)

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Seoul - South Korean police on Thursday named 22 people who may face criminal charges over the collapse last month of a gymnasium packed with students that killed 10 people, mostly college freshmen.

More than 200 were injured when the roof of the building - in a sprawling mountain resort near the southern city of Gyeongju - caved in under the weight of heavy snow on 17 February.

Welcoming events for college freshmen were being held at the resort which had experienced unusually heavy snowfall in the preceding week.

Police earlier said evidence had been found of structural flaws and lax management controls.

The group of 22 people include senior managers of the resort and companies that built the gymnasium, as well as municipal officials.

They are accused of using cheap, inadequate materials, providing state approval to an inadequate project and failing to remove snow or issue timely heavy snow alerts, police said.

"The investigation shed light on the culprits of this total disaster from the state approval all the way to design, construction, inspection and maintenance," senior police investigator Bae Bong-Gil told reporters.

The gymnasium was a pre-engineered building, assembled with rigid frames and side walls - of a type normally used for warehouses and aviation hangars.

Gyeongju is a popular tourism spot for Korean and international travellers. Once the capital of the Silla kingdom, it boasts numerous historical sites and is located at the southern fringe of the Taebaek mountains.
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