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(5th LD) Rescuers retrieve 2 bodies; one more remains missing in quarry

National 18:02 January 29, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with details, Sampyo's official statement in last 4 paras)

YANGJU, South Korea, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) -- Rescuers discovered two bodies of the three missing workers who were buried in a landslide in a quarry Saturday, fire department officials said.

Rescue operations are under way to find the remaining one missing worker.

The accident occurred at 10:08 a.m. when they were making holes for demolition work at the quarry in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, according to officials.

Fifty firefighters, 20 pieces of equipment, and a rescue dog were mobilized to find the buried workers, but search operations were hampered by huge amounts of soil, estimated to be 20 meters tall, according to officials.

The body of a 28-year-old worker was found earlier in the day, followed by another 55-year-old worker at 4:25 p.m.

Officials search for missing workers at a quarry in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, on Jan. 29, 2022, following a landslide accident, in this photo provided by the Gyeonggi Northern Fire & Disaster Department. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Authorities said they will mobilize more excavators for rescue operations.

The quarry is run by Sampyo, a manufacturer of construction materials, including remicon and aggregate.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum ordered officials to do everything possible to rescue the buried workers.

On Thursday, a workplace disaster law aimed at better protecting workers from industrial accidents went into effect.

Under the new law, owners and CEOs of companies with five or more employees can face a minimum one-year prison sentence or a fine of up to 1 billion won (US$833,000) in the event of serious workplace disasters.

Sampyo, which employs 930 workers, is expected to become the first company to be punished by the law, according to the labor ministry.

The labor ministry said it plans to launch an investigation to see if the company has violated the workplace disaster law.

Later in the day, Sampyo released a statement delivering an apology to the victims' families.

"We will spare no effort to cooperate with related authorities and pay full attention to rescuing the missing worker and maintaining safety at the scene," the company said.

Sampyo added it will faithfully cooperate with the investigation and make efforts to prevent the possible recurrence of similar incidents.

Officials search for missing workers at a quarry in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, on Jan. 29, 2022, following a landslide accident, in this photo provided by the Gyeonggi Northern Fire & Disaster Department. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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