Loft collapse inside Gwangju nightclub kills 2, injures athletes at FINA championships

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A loft inside a nightclub in the southwestern city of Gwangju collapsed Saturday, killing two people and injuring more than 10, including athletes competing at the 18th FINA World Championships, city authorities said.

The Gwangju Fire and Safety Headquarters said the loft inside the nightclub collapsed around 2:30 a.m. and claimed the lives of two South Koreans. Authorities suspect the loft collapsed due to too much weight. Witnesses said there were about 100 people on the loft area, which was 2.5 meters above the lower floor.

Firefighters said 17 people were injured, including foreign athletes who came to Gwangju, some 330 kilometers south of Seoul, for the July 12-28 FINA World Championships.

After checking with the local organizing committee of the FINA World Championships, rescue authorities said that eight foreign athletes were injured — three Americans, two New Zealanders, one Dutch, one Italian and one Brazilian. They are all water polo players except the Brazilian, authorities said, with six of them women.

Firefighters said their injuries are not severe, although some of them have underwent minor surgery after suffering lacerations.

According to the organizing committee of the competition, seven of the injured athletes were treated for minor injuries and returned to the athletes’ village. One athlete is scheduled to get stitched up for a laceration later Saturday and then go back to the athletes’ residence.

USA Water Polo confirmed that players from its men’s and women’s teams were at the club celebrating the women’s world title from Friday evening.

Read Yonhap News, The Korea Times, BBC, The Washington Post

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