Aussie Water Polo Champions Celebrated At Korean Nightclub When Fatal Accident Hit
At least two people are dead, and several more injured in South Korean nightclub collapse near World Aquatics Championships where Australian athletes were out celebrating.
According to local media reports, both people killed were South Korean nationals.
Witnesses said there were around 370 people inside the Coyote Ugly nightclub when part of the upper deck above the bar collapsed at about 2am local time.
Smartphone footage circulating online showed customers trying to hold up the collapsed structure to free those trapped underneath.
A spokesman for the Gwangju Seobu Fire Station confirmed that two South Koreans had died.
"Water Polo Australia can confirm that members of the Australian women's water polo team were celebrating their world championship bronze medal win at an establishment in Gwangju, South Korea last night when part of the balcony collapsed," Water Polo Australia said in a statement.
"All Australian players are safe and uninjured."
Some New Zealand athletes weren't as lucky.
Chris Wilson, the chief executive of NZ Water Polo, confirmed to Radio Sport all the New Zealand players were safe.
"At this stage, there are no serious injuries, a couple of our women's players had some minor injuries, but all the New Zealand players are safe and well and accounted for," he said.
“We were just dancing and then the next minute we dropped five to six metres and everyone started rushing out of the club after that,” New Zealand national water polo men’s team captain Matt Small told The New Zealand Herald.
New Zealand captain Matt Small said he was with about seven or eight men's teammates in the club.
"[It was] business as usual, and then it literally collapsed beneath our feet," he said.
He told Radio Sport critically hurt people were lying everywhere after the incident.
"None of the boys are hurt or injured though - so that's good."
"But everyone's a bit shaken up."
Small said he and a few teammates had been enjoying themselves moments before the incident.
Australia's women's team had beaten Hungary for a bronze medal earlier in the night in Gwangju.
Swimming Australia told 10 daily no swimmers were out last night.
USA Swimming has confirmed no American swimmers were injured.
"As some Championships’ participants were present at the moment of the accident, FINA is carefully monitoring the situation and will activate all measures to ensure health care and assistance is provided whenever necessary," FINA said in a statement
"FINA deeply regrets the situation and sends its best wishes to any victims of this accident."
The closing ceremony of the World Aquatic Championships is expected to be held on Sunday.
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