Two men walk out of an office building, carrying their computers with them, in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, July 5, 2011. South Korea ordered hundreds of people Tuesday to stay out of the high-rise shopping mall in Seoul that shook briefly for unknown reasons, an official said. / AP-Yonhap
By Lee Hyo-sik
Hundreds of merchants and shoppers evacuated Techno-Mart, a 39-story building in northeastern Seoul, Tuesday, after it shuddered for 10 minutes.
Building managers and rescue officials were unable to immediately identify what caused the shopping complex featuring electronics outlets and discount stores, to shake.
The Gwangjin Fire Station said it received a call that an office building of Techno-Mart, called the “Prime Center,” shook for 10 minutes at around 10:10 a.m.
According to officials from the Korea Meteorological Administration, the jolt at the building was not an earthquake as it detected no seismic activity in the area.
About 500 merchants and customers exited the building. Roughly 3,000 people were inside the building at the time.
The fire station dispatched 23 rescue workers and seven fire trucks to help people exit the building and prevent others from entering. There has been no report of human casualties and property damage, it said.
One merchant working on the 20th floor of the Prime Center told rescuers that she felt dizzy, adding she left the building with the other staff as soon as the shaking stopped.
Following the incident, officials from the Gwangjin District Office and the fire station held a meeting with Prime Development, the management firm of Techno-Mart.
The district office and the fire station said mandatory evacuation should be issued to conduct an extensive safety inspection.
But Prime Development argued the skyscraper has never failed previous safety checks, saying that nothing abnormal was reported, Tuesday, besides the minor shaking.
But they reached an agreement to evacuate all non-essential personnel from the building, the district office said.
“The Prime Center passed a safety inspection in March. But we’ve decided to issue the evacuation order to carry out a thorough safety check for the next three days. During the period, nobody can enter the building,” a district office official said.
According to Prime Development employees, it is normal for the building to shake to some extent as a multi-cinema complex screens 3D movies all day long.
Also, a sports center located on the 12th floor has been causing a significant level of vibration throughout the structure as loud music is played there.