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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on July 23)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:15 July 23, 2020

Another industrial accident

Less than three months after 38 workers were killed in a fire at a warehouse construction site in Icheon, 80km southeast of Seoul, a similar accident occurred Tuesday. A fire broke out at a distribution center in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, leaving five workers dead and eight others injured. The fire started at the SLC Distribution Center in the city Tuesday morning when 69 employees were working mostly on its fourth basement level.

All of the victims were discovered on this basement floor where the fire started after an explosion in a truck that was loading frozen processed foods. It was not immediately known what caused the fire at the nine-story building with five underground floors. But it's certain that this fire is another manmade disaster caused by our deep-seated evil practice of putting profits ahead of human lives, speed above accuracy and a basic ignorance of (or lack of attention to) safety practices. And all this is in parallel to the government's irresponsibly lax supervisory controls.

Given that President Moon Jae-in vowed to do whatever he could to prevent industrial disasters in April at the time of the Icheon warehouse fire, it's sad to see innocent workers fall victim to a conflagration yet again. This is just a reminder that the reality facing them in industrial sites remains the same as ever, despite all sorts of measures being pledged amid calls for self-reflection whenever large-scale safety disasters occur.

The repetition of similar incidents is certainly attributable to half-hearted commitments to safety by both the government and businesses. A distribution center is prone to a deadly fire owing to stacks of flammable material and products and poor ventilation, apart from the fact that it is a closed space. Few seem to believe any longer the government's clamorous preventive measures and promises to stop similar fires. The authorities concerned ought to have a fresh round of soul-searching about why inadvertent disasters have cost so many lives so far and come up with fundamental solutions.

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