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Crews Probe Deadly Samsung Crane Mishap

Thursday, May 4, 2017

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Rescuers are still sifting through debris after a crane collapse at a Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard site in South Korea. Six workers were killed and 22 injured, with three in serious condition, according to widespread reports.

The 32-ton crane fell Monday (May 1) at Samsung’s shipyard on Geoje Island. The company told the Associated Press that the crane collided with another crane, then collapsed onto an oil platform being built on the vessel.

The six workers killed were hired by subcontractors at Samsung, the company said.

"We haven't had such a big accident in the past several years," a Samsung Heavy Industries spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency in South Korea, on the condition of anonymity. "For now, handling the accident is the most important."

Police told Yonhap they will look into whether security regulations were complied with at the construction site, and if crane drivers or security supervisors committed any operational mistakes.

Platform Bound for Europe

The oil platform was being built for French firm Total for use in its Martin Linge oil field in the North Sea off Norway.

"The crane fell onto the platform's well bay module, where the people were working," Total communications manager Leif Harald Halvorsen said. "For the time being, all work at the yard has been stopped and the investigation is ongoing."

Halvorsen said that no Total employees were among those killed or injured. He added the extent of damage to the platform was not immediately clear.

Total and Samsung Heavy Industries said it wasn’t clear how the incident might affect delivery of the platform, which was expected to start producing oil and gas in the North Sea in 2018.

"It's too early to say what would be the consequences for delivering the platform," Halvorsen said.

Samsung’s Status

Samsung Heavy Industries is the world's third-largest shipbuilder, after Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, both also based in South Korea. Samsung is also involved in other engineering work.

Photo courtesy of Samsung Heavy Industries

The 32-ton crane that fell Monday and killed six workers happened at the Goeje Island Shipyard in South Korea.

Samsung recently broke the world record for building the largest containership. Mitsui O.S.K Lines' (MOL) Triumph is 400 meters (about 1,312 feet) in length, 58.8 meters (about 193 feet) wide, and sports a depth of 32.8 meters (about 108 feet). It can transport 20,150 containers.

Triumph was delivered to MOL on March 27.

Industry Upheaval

The South Korean shipbuilding industry has been going through restructuring since 2014, with a downturn caused by plunging oil prices and weaker global trade.

South Korea announced in October that it plans to spend about $9.6 billion by 2020 to help the shipbuilding industry.

Tens of thousands of workers have lost jobs on Geoje Island, where many shipyards and their subcontractors are based. Scores of workers have died in accidents on the job at other sites, including four workers at Geochung Shipbuilding’s Busan-based yard who were killed by a falling crane in January 2015.

Marching for Rights

Monday's accident happened while many around the world were joining May Day marches for workers' rights. According to the AP, South Korean workers are entitled to a paid holiday on May 1, but many choose to work.

Samsung Heavy Industries said 15,000 people were toiling at the shipyard when the crane accident occurred.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fatalities; Health and safety; Samsung Heavy Industries Co.; Ships and vessels; Shipyards

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