Sixteen people have been confirmed dead and 11 injured after a ventilation grate collapsed at a K-pop concert just outside Seoul, local media reported.
Hundreds had gathered on Friday evening at a tech company complex in the city of Seongnam, a suburb of the South Korean capital, for a concert by 4Minute, a popular girl group.
Television reports said victims fell about 65 feet when a ventilation shaft grate they were standing on collapsed.
A 65-year-old woman surnamed Cho who had been selling concessions near the concert site told South Korea’s YTN network that a group of people had climbed onto the ventilation grate to get a better view of the stage. The grate then suddenly collapsed, leaving people in the surrounding area frantically calling for help before firefighters arrived, Cho told YTN.
Photos posted on social media showed a large number of spectators standing on the grate before it collapsed. YTN also reported that concert organizers had repeatedly asked fans to get off the grate before it collapsed.
“I heard a loud noise around the end of the concert, but I assumed it was just cheering. Then I heard people screaming for help,” a 15-year-old surnamed Choi told Yonhap News Agency.
Safety has been a hot topic in South Korea since a ferry sank in April, resulting in around 300 deaths. Not long after that, in May a fire at a nursing home claimed 21 lives, nearly all of them elderly residents. Also in May, there was a crash on Seoul’s subway system in which 200 people were injured.
In February, 10 college students died and more than 100 were injured when the roof collapsed at a rural resort in the southern city of Gyeongju. An investigation later showed that the building was structurally flawed and had been poorly maintained.
These incidents spurred a national discussion on how South Korea’s economic miracle was facilitated by corner-cutting and neglect of safety.
Shame on You South Korean safety measures!