South Korean police said Sunday (Oct 19) no safety personnel were deployed at an outdoor pop concert where a ventilation grate collapsed, killing 16 people and injuring nine others.
“From the beginning, there were no safety personnel for the concert,” a police spokesman told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency, after about 20 people were questioned over the incident Friday in the city of Seongnam south of Seoul.
Those questioned included officials of a local Internet news provider which financed and organised the concert attended by more than 700 people, Yonhap said. A local government official in charge of safety committed suicide Saturday by jumping off a building near the site after he was questioned by police.
The victims were standing on a ventilation grating to get a better view when the structure collapsed under their weight, sending them plunging 18.7m into an underground parking area. Amateur video footage obtained by television stations showed shocked spectators surrounding the collapsed grate as the popular all-girl K-pop band 4Minute, apparently oblivious to the accident, continued performing on stage.
According to akp, most of those dead and injured are reported to be men in their 30s – 40s, but there are also a few victims in their 20s. The “Techno Valley” is home to a number of technology-related organisations and office buildings, and a large number of employees attended the festival after work. It’s also reported that there were 300 security guards for the 700-person event. An insider gave a statement saying that the event organisers repeatedly warned people to stay away from the grate.
However, witnesses have told media there were no security guards or safety fences to prevent spectators overflowing, with dozens of people chanting and dancing on the grating despite warnings by show organisers.
In more shocking findings, a South Korean safety official has reportedly committed suicide in the wake the tragedy.
According to The Telegraph, the body of the 37-year-old official, whose surname was given as Oh, was found early Saturday morning. Oh jumped off a building near the site of concert event sometime on Friday, having been recently interrogated by South Korean police and disaster response units. According to one official, the man left a note which read, “I am sorry for the dead victims … Please take a good care of my children.”
Experts described the incident as another “man-made” disaster.