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Church construction accident kills three

Nearly 50 more workers injured in roof collapse

Church construction accident kills three
Mixed accounts say heavy rain and inadequate scaffolding caused the accident reporter

January 18, 2013

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A church under construction 64 kilometers north of Hanoi collapsed on Thursday killing three construction workers and injuring nearly 50 others.

Father Francis Xavier Duc Dai, the parish priest, said heavy rain had caused the 100-square-meter roof of the church in Thai Nguyen province to cave in.

But Thomas Nguyen Van Thao, a construction expert who lives in the area, said the 10-meter-high roof “obviously collapsed because there were no pillars to support it.”

Since building work started in October, the site had been using wooden scaffolding, he added, a common practice in Vietnam.

Thao, who is working on the construction of another church, said he visited the site previously and was concerned that the roof was at risk of collapse.

“This most serious incident ... serves as a painful reminder that we need to consider other local churches under construction,” he said.

There are hundreds of churches across Vietnam in need of repair, Thao added, but a lack of funds means that many are renovated poorly, if at all.

Statistics and anecdotal evidence point to a rise in construction site fatalities in Vietnam in recent years.

Staff at the provincial hospital where the victims were being treated said two other construction workers died on Thursday in the same province after a ceiling collapsed at a trade tower, and on Wednesday eight workers were injured when the roof of a market collapsed in the provincial capital.

Authorities in Thai Nguyen province donated seven million dong (US$350) to each of the families of the three men killed on the church construction site and two million dong to those injured. The funerals were held on Friday.

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