8:14 am - Thursday November 5, 2015

16 killed in vent collapse at South Korea pop concert

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SEONGNAM, South Korea: Sixteen people were killed and nine others seriously injured when they plunged down a ventilation shaft after a grating gave way as they watched an outdoor pop concert on Friday in Seongnam south of Seoul.


“They were standing on the ventilation grate to get a better view when it collapsed under their weight,” a spokesman for the local fire services told AFP.


Rescuers said 16 were confirmed dead, but added the death toll might rise with some of the injured understood to be in critical condition.


Television reports said the victims fell more than 10 metres into an underground parking area when the grate gave way shortly before 6:00pm (0900 GMT).


Amateur video footage obtained by the YTN news channel showed shocked spectators surrounding the collapsed grate as the popular all-girl K-pop band 4Minute, apparently oblivious to the accident, continued performing on stage.


More than 700 people were believed to be attending the outdoor concert.


“There was a sudden loud screaming, and when I turned it looked as if people were being sucked down into a hole,” one witness told YTN.


A woman standing nearby said a great “cloud of dust” billowed up from the ventilation shaft after the grate collapsed.


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