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Hotel adjoining Itaewon crowd crush site raided over suspected illegal construction

SEOUL– A special investigation team raided a hotel adjoining the site of the deadly Itaewon crowd crush and two other locations Wednesday over suspicions that its illegally extended structures made the narrow place even narrower, officials said.

The investigation team sent 14 investigators to Hamilton Hotel, the home of the hotel’s head and another location to seize documents on hotel management and administrative licenses, the officials said.

The hotel’s building ledger showed it illegally extended a 17.2-square-meter terrace on its northern side of the main building and installed other illegal structures.

At least 156 people, mostly in their 20s, were killed in the Oct. 29 crowd crush on a downhill alley that runs along the side of the outer wall of Hamilton Hotel. News media and critics have pointed out the hotel’s extended structures may have made the narrow alley even narrower.

The hotel’s head has also been booked for an investigation on charges of violating the building and road laws.

After the raid, the investigation team is expected to examine whether the illegal extensions contributed to the tragedy and if so, how they contributed to it.
A document has shown the hotel was told by the Yongsan Ward office to demolish the structures around 2014 but has not complied and instead paid 500 million won (US$366,354) in fines so far.

The investigation team is also expected to summon Yongsan Ward office employees for questioning to determine if the district office was also accountable for the illegal extensions.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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