|A night club inside a building in Gwangju collapsed on Saturday morning, killing two and injuring more than then, including athletes from FINA World Championships held at the city. Yonhap|
The upper floor of a nightclub in the southwestern city of Gwangju collapsed Saturday, killing two people and injuring more than 10, including athletes competing at the 18th FINA World Championships, according to the city authorities.
The Gwangju Fire and Safety Headquarters said the floor inside the nightclub disintegrated around 2:30 a.m. and claimed the lives of two South Koreans. Authorities suspect the floor fell due to too much weight. Witnesses said there were about 100 people in the space, which was 2.5 meters above a lower floor.
Firefighters said 17 people were injured, including foreign athletes who came to Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, for the July 12 to 28 FINA World Championships.
After checking with the local organizing committee of the event, rescue authorities said that eight foreign athletes were injured ― three Americans, two New Zealanders, one Dutch person, an Italian and a Brazilian. They are all water polo players except for the Brazilian, the authorities said. Six of them were women.
Firefighters said their injuries were not severe, although some of them underwent minor surgery after suffering cuts.
According to the event organizing committee, seven of the injured athletes were treated for minor injuries and returned to the athletes' village. One is scheduled to have stitches for a laceration late Saturday and then return to the athletes' residence.
|Seen is the building in Gwangju's Seo District, South Jeolla Province, where the second floor of a nightclub collapsed Friday. Yonhap|
USA Water Polo confirmed that players from its men's and women's teams were at the club celebrating the women's world title.
"This is an awful tragedy. Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families," said USA Water Polo chief Christopher Ramsey in a statement. "We are grateful to all those who lent assistance. All USA Water Polo athletes are safe and accounted for."
FINA, the international swimming governing body, said it was keeping a close eye on the situation and vowed to "activate all measures to ensure healthcare and assistance is provided whenever necessary."
"FINA deeply regrets the situation and sends its best wishes to any victims of this accident," it added.
Among the foreigners on the injured list also include two Uzbek men who were not athletes.
Local authorities believe dozens were injured from the collapse if those who suffered light bruises and scratches are included. There were about 370 people inside the nightclub when the collapse occurred, they said.
The authorities said some areas of the second floor inside the nightclub were illegally enlarged without the city's authorization. Gwangju police said it will form a taskforce to investigate the matter.
The municipal government of Gwangju and local organizing committee of the FINA Championships said they will give their utmost support to help athletes who sustained injuries from the incident.
The organizing committee added it has asked all participating national swimming federations to take care of their athletes' health and safety. The competition will conclude Sunday. (Yonhap)