Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - Page 1 News List

FPG says collapse at Vietnamese steel complex kills 12

Staff writer, with CNA

Rescue workers scramble to save lives yesterday, following a major scaffolding collapse at a steel mill owned by Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group, in Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam.

Photo: CNA screen grab from a Vietnamese news Web site

Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團) yesterday confirmed that at least 12 people died after a scaffolding collapsed at a steel mill that the conglomerate is building in central Vietnam.

Based on information it obtained in the immediate aftermath of the collapse, 39 people were rushed to hospitals, the group said.

Twelve were later pronounced dead, while the remaining 27 were undergoing medical treatment.

Vietnamese media said that about 100 other workers remained trapped in the rubble.

FPG said the accident at the steel mill in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh Province occurred at 7:52pm on Wednesday when workers were erecting a 30m to 40m-high scaffolding.

However, early reports by local media outlets gave conflicting information. Vietnamese news Web site vnexpress.net put the death toll at 15, with 28 people injured, while tuoitre.vn, another news Web site, said that 16 were killed and 27 injured.

Representative to Vietnam Huang Chih-peng (黃志鵬) said that none of the factory’s Taiwanese or Chinese employees had been reported killed or injured, but his office has offered to provide any assistance necessary.

Vietnamese media reports said that Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp, a member of the Formosa Plastics Group, has been building a huge steel complex in the Vietnamese economic zone. The reports added that the FPG unit hired about 40,000 workers, including 5,659 from China.

South Korea’s Samsung Group was contracted to build the steel mill, including the construction of the scaffolding that collapsed, Formosa Plastics Group said.

FPG told reporters that Samsung has dispatched more than 200 rescue personnel to the accident site, while authorities in Ha Tinh Province have sent representatives to the steel complex and hospitals to aid in rescue efforts.

The Taiwanese conglomerate said it expected the accident site to be cleared by the end of yesterday, so that a final death and injury toll can be tallied.

FPG said the cause of the collapse remains unknown and is still under investigation.

Construction of the Ha Tinh steel complex started in December 2013 and FPG said it expects to commence production in the second quarter of next year.

However, market analysts expressed concern that anti-Chinese protests and the scaffolding collapse may affect the start of production.

FPG said that since Samsung would take responsibility for the scaffolding collapse, the production schedule is unlikely to be affected.

FPG partnered with Taiwan’s China Steel Corp (中鋼) to invest US$10 billion to build the Vietnamese steel mill as its first step into steel production.

The group’s main companies — including Formosa Plastics Corp (台塑), Nan Ya Plastics Corp (南亞), Formosa Chemicals & Fiber Corp (台化) and Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑化) — jointly hold a 75 percent stake in the Vietnamese project, with China Steel owning the remaining 25 percent.

In addition to the steel production facility, the Vietnamese development is set to include port and power plant facilities, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.

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