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Wednesday, 19 February 2014 13:16cat

10 Dead in South Korean Auditorium Collapse

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Rescue workers spent Monday night clearing debris from the collapse to help locate survivors Rescue workers spent Monday night clearing debris from the collapse to help locate survivors Yonhap News

Ten people died and over 100 were injured on Monday night when the roof of the auditorium building at the Mauna Ocean Resort in Gyeongju, South Korea collapsed. Nine of the ten fatalities were students, and the other was a worker for the company organizing the school event. Officials believe the heavy snowfall in the area likely caused the roof to collapse, but a full investigation has been ordered.

Over 550 students attended a freshman orientation in the resort’s auditorium on Monday night. The resort is located 300 kilometers from Seoul. The orientation was part of a larger event for nearly 1,000 students from Busan University of Foreign Affairs. At 9:11 local time, the auditorium’s roof began to collapse. As students began rushing towards the exit, more and more of the building's roof and frame continued to fall. The pieces of the collapsed roof blocked students’ paths out of the building so many of them began breaking windows to escape the facility. Rescuers rushed to the scene to help those who were trapped, but they had difficulty reaching the resort due to the unusually large snowfall the area was experiencing. Over 1,400 rescue workers spent Monday night searching for survivors and treating the wounded students. They also used heavy equipment to clear the debris from the auditorium. As of Tuesday night, emergency officials believed they had found everyone, but they will not be certain until all of the debris is removed from the building.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye called for a full investigation of the auditorium collapse on Tuesday. The snowstorm hitting the area over the past week dumped more than 50 centimeters of snow on the resort town. The snow fall on top of other buildings in the area was estimated to weigh close to 150 tons.  Investigators will look into whether the snow had been cleared from the roof of the auditorium, and they will also check to make sure the building met South Korean safety standards. The pre-engineered building was constructed from sandwich panels, and the building also did not have any interior columns supporting the roof despite having 900 square feet of interior space. The South Korean President also called for other multi-purpose facilities in the area to be inspected to ensure they are up to code. This is not the first major building collapse in South Korea. Over 500 people died in 1995 when a mall collapsed in Seoul, and other incidents include a bridge collapse that killed 32 and a fire that killed 19 kindergarten children at a camp. Many believe that better safety oversight could have prevented these tragedies.  

Sources: ArirangCBS NewsBloomberg

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