• Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 die in SKorea building collapse

BBC Online
Heavy snow on the roof has been blamed for its collapse, and for slowing the emergency services' response
Heavy snow on the roof has been blamed for its collapse, and for slowing the emergency services' response

At least 10 people have died and more than 100 were injured after a building collapsed at a resort in South Korea.

More than 560 people were believed to be attending a concert in the south-eastern city of Gyeongju when part of the auditorium caved in.

Nine of those killed were students. Officials say all the students are now believed to be accounted for.

Fire services have blamed the weight of snow on the roof. The weather is also thought to have slowed rescue efforts.

The auditorium structure failed during an orientation event for first-year university students from the southern city of Busan.

"We assume that the centre of the building was unable to withstand the weight of the snow, so it collapsed," firefighter Kim In-yoo said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Security and Public Administration told reporters: "Ten people are confirmed dead, two were seriously injured and 101 others suffered bruises and cuts."

Rescuers continued searching the wreckage on Tuesday to check for anyone trapped inside, AFP news agency reported.

Local media reports say the collapse happened at around 21:15 local time (12:15 GMT).

'Crashing down'

A large number of students from Busan University of Foreign Studies were at the Mauna Ocean Resort, said an official, and many managed to get out of the damaged building by themselves.

"The ceiling came crashing down at the front near the stage," one student told South Korea's YTN news channel. "Then pandemonium broke out and everyone started rushing towards the exits, shouting and screaming," he added.

The area has experienced exceptionally heavy snowfall over the past week.

The building was a modern, pre-fabricated structure, and local police have reportedly asked why the snow was not cleared from the roof before the party began, the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul reports.

Rescue teams had to navigate heavy snow and icy mountain roads to reach the resort where the students were celebrating, our correspondent adds.

Gyeongju is a historic city that served as the capital of one of the Korean peninsula's ancient kingdoms, and is a popular tourist destination.

One of the world's worst peacetime building collapses happened in South Korea in June 1995, when Seoul's Sampoong Department Store collapsed, killing hundreds.

Published: 10:16 am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Last modified: 9:01 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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