Two South Koreans killed and athletes from US, New Zealand, Netherlands, Italy and Brazil injured
Two South Koreans have died and several others, including athletes attending the world aquatic championships, have been injured after a structure collapsed in a nightclub in the city of Gwangju early on Saturday, a fire department official has said.
The deaths happened when a two-level structure in the club, which is next to the athletes village, collapsed at about 2am local time, hitting and pinning revellers, the official said.
Hundreds were inside the seven-storey nightclub at the time. The BBC reported the two people killed were aged 38 and 27, and were not competitors at the championships.
Yonhap news agency reported that nine athletes competing in the 2019 Fina aquatic World Championships were injured, though none of them seriously. Their injuries ranged from bruising to lacerations on their hands or feet, the agency said.
Matt Small, captain of New Zealands water polo team, said some of the cases were pretty dire.
We were just dancing and then the next minute we dropped five to six metres and everyone started rushing out of the club after that, he told New Zealand radio.
He said he thinks they fell on top of the heads of other people below them.
Video of the aftermath appears to show dozens of people on the lower floor of the bar trying to hold up sections of the collapsed balcony. Screams and shouts can be heard from the crowd.
A Gwangju police officer said two co-owners and two workers at the Coyote Ugly nightclub were being questioned about possible illegal expansion and renovation at the nightclub, and the legality of its licensing process.
The injured athletes included four people from the United States, two from New Zealand, and one each from the Netherlands, Italy and Brazil, Yonhap said, citing city and fire department officials.
All the athletes were water polo players except the Brazilian, they said.
Three athletes were treated in hospital and the remainder went to the athletes village medical centre for treatment of minor injuries.
Water Polo Australia confirmed that while Australian team members were also at the nightclub, none were injured.
Water Polo Australia can confirm that members of the Australian womens water polo team were celebrating their world championship bronze medal win at an establishment in Gwangju, South Korea last night when part of the balcony collapsed, it said a statement.
All Australian players are safe and uninjured.
The US Water Polo team has said all its athletes were safe and accounted for, and USA Swimming told the Washington Post none of its competitors were at the venue.
This is an awful tragedy, said Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo. Players from our mens and womens teams were celebrating the womens world championship victory when the collapse occurred at a public club. Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families.
The championship event is nearing the end, with most competitions completed by Friday. Water polo and swimming events were scheduled for Friday and Saturday, with the final event for swimming on Sunday.
The fire department official confirmed some of the athletes had been hurt but said it was too soon to comment on how many, or how many people were injured in total.
A spokesman for Gwangju city could not be immediately reached.
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