Vietnam’s transport ministry has suspended officials and a subcontractor following the collapse of a 10-metre-long section of steel scaffolding at an elevated railway being built in Hanoi by a Chinese firm.
Cars were crushed but no one was hurt in the incident that happened at around 4am on 28 December.
A passing taxi was trapped by the falling steel debris but its driver and three passengers escaped unharmed, Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre News reported.
The collapse took place on a section of a 13-km-long elevated railway under construction in Hanoi joining Cat Linh and Ha Dong stations.
The project which has suffered delays and cost overruns was in the news on 6 November after reels of steel fell into the street, killing one motorcyclist and injuring others.
The main contractor on the project is the Chinese state-owned China Railway Sixth Group Co. Ltd.
Vietnam’s transport ministry blamed a subcontractor for the collapse – Vietnam Technology Consultant and Construction Investment JSC (Vinacontech) – and barred it from all work on the elevated railway, Thanh Nien News reported.
The ministry also suspended Ta Trung Van, a consultant overseeing the terminal, and censured the project’s chief consultant Diem Chi Cuong. Their responsibility in the accident is being probed further.
Nguyen Van Bao, deputy director of the Railway Project Management Unit, was also suspended pending further investigation.
China Railway Sixth Group escaped specific censure but the ministry said it would have to take responsibility and bear all costs relating to the scaffolding collapse.
The elevated railway was first scheduled to break ground in August 2008 and finish in November 2013, but construction, overseen by state-owned Vietnam Railways, only started in October 2011.
In 2008 its cost was estimated to be $552m, but Vietnamese officials have blamed the Chinese contractor for various delays that have added $339m to the price tag.
Photograph: Workers clear debris following the collapse of scaffolding at a Hanoi elevated railway project on December 28 (VietNamNet)