16 killed in accident at concert


Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Sixteen people watching an outdoor pop concert in South Korea fell 60ft to their deaths when a ventilation grate they were standing on collapsed.

Photos of the scene in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, showed a deep concrete shaft under the broken grate.

Seongnam city spokesman Kim Nam-jun announced the deaths in a televised briefing and said 11 other people were seriously injured.

A man who was involved in planning the concert was found dead early in an apparent suicide.

Fire officials said the victims were standing on the grate while watching an outdoor performance by girls’ band 4Minute, who are popular across Asia.

About 700 people had gathered yesterday to watch the concert, which was part of a local festival.

Fire officials said many of the dead and injured appeared to be commuters who stopped to watch the concert after leaving work.

Most of the dead were men in their 30s and 40s, while five were women in their 20s and 30s, they said.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won visited an emergency centre in Seongnam and urged officials to focus on helping the victims’ families and ensure the injured get proper treatment.

A video recorded by someone at the concert that was shown on the YTN television network showed the band continuing to dance for a while in front of a crowd that appeared to be unaware of the accident.

Dozens of people were shown standing next to the ventilation grate, gazing into the dark gaping hole where people had been standing to watch the performance.

YTN said the ventilation grate was about 10 to 12 feet wide. Photos apparently taken at the scene showed that the ventilation grate reached to the shoulders of many passers-by.

Mr Kim said an employee of Gyeonggi Institute of Science and Technology Promotion had been found dead in Seongnam. He had been questioned by police over the accident.

The institute was one of the sponsors of the concert, which was organised by business news site Edaily.

The collapse came as South Korea is still struggling with the aftermath of a ferry disaster in April that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

For a time, the sinking jolted South Korea into thinking about safety issues that had been almost universally overlooked as the country rose from poverty and war to an Asian power.

The tragedy exposed regulatory failures that appear to have allowed the ferry Sewol to set off with far more cargo than it could safely carry.

Analysts say many safety problems in the country stem from little regulation, light punishment for violators and wide ignorance about safety in general – and a tendency to value economic advancement over all else.

Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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