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Sinkholes Threaten Record Skyscraper

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

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The spreading eruption of sinkholes throughout Seoul, South Korea, is now threatening progress on what was to be the capital's tallest building.

Several sinkholes have opened up this summer in the neighborhood where the $3.5 billion Lotte World Tower is under construction, The Korea Times reports. Three holes were found in June, and several more appeared in July, the news outlet said. Two recently appeared just meters apart near the National Assembly.

Twitter / @koreatimes1

Sinkholes are spreading in Seoul, The Korea Times reports.

Streets are affected as is a lake near the Lotte project. One hole about 500 meters from the construction site measured half a meter wide and 20 centimeters deep.

Lake Shrinking

Meanwhile, the lake's water level has dropped from 16.5 feet to 14 feet recently, the Associated Press reported.

Park Chang-khun, a civil engineering professor at Kwandong University, told the AP that underground water was pooling in the sixth basement level of the Lotte tower, suggesting water displaced from the lake.

A recent report by Korea Today noted that more than 130 sinkholes have opened up in Seoul in the past five years.

Seoul has seen more than 130 sinkholes erupt in the last five years, raising concerns of structural ability and safety throughout the capital, Korea Today reported.

The Project

Planned for 123 stories, the Lotte World Tower will be the world's sixth-tallest building when it is completed. The project is being developed by the Lotte Co. Ltd., a Japan-based food and shopping multinational.

The project has been on the books since 1995, and groundbreaking did not begin until March 2011. Nearly 70 floors of the building have been completed.

Developer Assurances

The developer is doing its best to reassure the public that the project is safe. One company official said the holes were far from the construction site and were not necessarily caused by the project.

Lotte World Tower
Wikimedia Commons / Teddy Cross

Seventy of the Lotte World Tower's 123 stories had been completed as of July.

But fears for public safety—and doubts about the government's ability to guarantee it—have run high since the capsizing of the Seoul ferry in April killed 300 people, most of them teenagers.

The Lotte World Tower is now undergoing a review by experts and has been ordered to put on hold the opening of adjacent low-rise buildings that form part of its complex.

Lee Won-woo, CEO of Lotte Moolsan, the tower's builder, told reporters last this month that Lotte had pumped water into the lake to maintain the water level while a separate inspection by Korean and British experts is underway, the AP reported.

Seoul sinkhole
Korea Today

South Korea's capital has seen about a half-dozen new sinkholes this summer.

The city formed the advisory team of lawyers, engineers, architects, environmentalists and university professors to submit their opinions about the construction site.

Sinkhole Spread

SInkholes have been causing damage worldwide in the past year, swallowing homes and other property on multiple continents. In the U.S., Florida has been particularly hard hit.

In February, a security camera captured a sinkhole-triggered collapse at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, swallowed a number of classic cars.



Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial Construction; Concrete defects; Developers; Health and safety; Office Buildings; Roads/Highways

Comment from Dennis Guy, (8/6/2014, 8:05 AM)

20 centimeters deep hardly makes this a sink hole. Check your units :-)

Comment from Mary Chollet, (8/6/2014, 8:52 AM)

Thanks, Dennis. Those figures are correct for the one hole. Other holes, as the photos show, are clearly deeper.

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