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Two locals dead, 9 aquatic athletes injured as nightclub floor collapses in Gwangju

Two locals dead, 9 aquatic athletes injured as nightclub floor collapses in Gwangju
Two South Koreans were killed and several other people – including nine athletes – were injured when a structure collapsed at a Gwangju nightclub in South Korea on Saturday night.

Details were released by a fire department official to news agency Yonhap, explaining that a two-level structure at the city's Coyote Ugly nightclub collapsed on a number of clubbers, pinning some to the ground, killing two South Korean locals, and injuring at least 10 other people.

Gwangju fire chief Kim Young-Don told a briefing that there were about 370 people in the club at the time, and stated that the floor that collapsed did so under the weight of people in the club that night.

"We deem that the second level... seems to have collapsed because there were too many people on it," he explained.

"The second level is a small space, it's not a space where a lot of people can be."

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Among the injured were nine athletes competing in the 2019 FINA aquatic World Championships, including four from the United States team, two from New Zealand, and individual athletes from the Netherlands, Italy and Brazil.

Captain of the New Zealand men's water polo team, Matt Small, was one of those caught up in the incident. He explained that he was on the second-floor deck when it gave way.

"We were just dancing and then the next minute we dropped," he told New Zealand's Radio Sport.

"We... fell on top of the heads of other people that were beneath us... Some of them were pretty dire cases."

Four members of the United States water polo team were injured in the incident, with Kaleigh Gilchrist undergoing surgery after suffering a leg laceration, while Paige Hauschild and Johnny Hooper required stitches. A fourth member of the team, Ben Hallock, suffered minor skin abrasions.

Head of USA Water Polo labeled the incident "an awful tragedy," saying: "Players from our men's and women's teams were celebrating the women's world championship victory when the collapse occurred.

"Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families."

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