Updated: 02/18/2014 01:25 | By Agence France-Presse

Eight dead, dozens feared trapped in S. Korea building collapse

Eight college students were killed and dozens more feared trapped after an auditorium collapsed under heavy snow Monday at a resort in the southern South Korean city of Gyeongju, rescue workers said.


Eight dead, dozens feared trapped in S. Korea building collapse

File photo shows an ambulance (L) following a police car at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on July 30, 2007 - by Jung Yeon-Je

As many as 450 students were believed to have been attending a concert in the building when the roof caved in around 9:15 pm (1215 GMT).

Police officials quoted by the Yonhap news agency said eight people had been confirmed killed in the collapse and around 50 more were thought to still be trapped inside the building. 

A spokesman for the local fire service had earlier told AFP by telephone that 73 people were injured, 15 of them seriously.

Rescue workers were continuing to search for the dozens more students who were feared trapped inside the collapsed structure, he said.

Yonhap reported that police feared the toll could rise throughout the night, with around 300 rescuers on the scene.

The collapse appeared to have been caused by heavy snow which had piled up on the roof of the auditorium.

"The ceiling came crashing down at the front near the stage," one student told the YTN news channel.

"Then pandemonium broke out and everyone started rushing towards the exits, shouting and screaming," he added.

Pictures from the Yonhap news agency showed injured students being carried away on stretchers from the largely metallic structure that appeared to have buckled in on itself.

In one shot, a young woman could be seen trapped under debris as helmeted rescue officials tried to free her from the twisted wreckage of the building.

"Heavy equipment has been brought in to clear the debris," the fire official said.

The auditorium was part of the Mauna Ocean Resort, which had been hosting a freshman orientation event for close to 1,000 students from a foreign language college in the southern city of Busan.

The resort was in an area that has experienced exceptionally heavy snowfall over the past week.

Fire officials told Yonhap that they had difficulty reaching the resort which is high up a mountain, adding that fresh snow was falling on Monday night. 

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