An internal balcony at a nightclub in South Korea collapsed on Saturday, killing two people and injuring 10 others including two American athletes at the world swimming championships, officials said.
Hundreds were at the nightclub in the southern South Korean city of Gwangju when the collapse occurred next to the athletes’ village, according a local anti-disaster agency.
Two South Korean men died while the 10 injured included four foreigners — two American athletes and two Uzbekistan exchange students. The Americans are a male water polo player and a female diver, an agency official said, requesting anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.
The water polo player was released from a hospital after a minor treatment. The American diver’s injury is more serious and requires surgery, he said.
The official refused to provide more details, citing privacy. He said none of the injured is in life-threatening condition. He said a final tally for the number of injured could increase because some went to hospitals on their own without reporting to authorities.
“This is an awful tragedy,” said Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo. “Players from our men’s and women’s teams were celebrating the women’s world championship victory when the collapse occurred at a public club. Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families.”
Members of the New Zealand men’s and women’s water polo teams were also at the nightclub. The men’s captain, Matt Small, described a chaos and said that his team tried to help the injured.
“(It was) business as usual and then it literally collapsed beneath our feet,” Small said, speaking to New Zealand Radio Sport by phone. “None of the boys are hurt or injured though — so that’s good. But everyone’s a bit shaken up at the moment.”
“We did what we could but we couldn’t really do too much. Some of them were pretty dire cases,” he said. “We were more so just concerned about everyone else, we were trying to do a number count and make sure all the boys were there.”
The local organizing committee for the world swimming championships said that eight of the athletes attending the event were injured, most slightly.
A committee statement said seven of them had already returned to the athletes’ village after minor treatments at hospitals. It said one player had a leg lacerated and was to receive stitches at a hospital.
The organizing committee said it won’t disclose other personal information about the athletes at the request of their national teams.
More AP swimming: https://apnews.com/Swimming and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports