Four US water polo players have been injured after a nightclub in South Korea when a balcony collapsed – killing two South Koreans and injuring 12 others.
Chaos unfolded at the Coyote Ugly nightclub in Gwangiu as revelers were forced to flee for their lives on Saturday morning.
Among the Americans, Kaleigh Gilchrist of Newport Beach, California, suffered a deep left leg laceration and underwent surgery at a hospital in Gwangju, said Greg Mescall, director of communications for USA Water Polo.
He said Paige Hauschild of Santa Barbara, California, suffered lacerations on the right arm and Johnny Hooper of Los Angeles on the left hand that required stitches.
Ben Hallock of Westlake Village, California, suffered minor scrapes on the legs, he said.
The nightclub is in the South Korean city of Gwangju where the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships are currently being held
South Korean firefighters and officials examine the collapsed structure in the nightclub
Kaleigh Gilchrist of Newport Beach, California, suffered a deep left leg laceration and underwent surgery at a hospital. Ben Hallock of Westlake Village, California, suffered minor scrapes on the legs
Paige Hauschild of Santa Barbara, California, suffered lacerations on the right arm and Johnny Hooper of Los Angeles on the left hand that required stitches
New Zealand men’s team captain Matt Small described the scene of mayhem to NZ Herald following the balcony collapse.
‘We were just dancing and then the next minute we dropped five to six metres and everyone started rushing out of the club.
‘It just fell from underneath us, it didn’t even feel stable. There was literally dead people everywhere.
‘We were trying to do a number count and make sure all the boys were there and everyone was fine – so pretty relieving stuff but at the same time pretty chilling.’
Australian waterpolo captain Rowie Webster told The Australian she and her team went into ‘beast mode’ to help revelers escape.
‘We didn’t think too much about it. I think it’s fight-or-flight and we all kicked into gear pretty quickly.
‘So our coaching staff, our manager were all there and everyone on the street were so supportive and water was being passed out, shirts were being taken off for people in need, and things like that.’
Webster said after her team was accounted for and safe on the street, she went back into the nightclub to help others.
The nightclub is in the South Korean city of Gwangju where the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships are currently being held.
Other teams were also celebrating at the venue which is located next to the athlete’s village, which includes two dozen high rise buildings that house 4,000 sports competitors.
Two members of the New Zealand water polo team reportedly sustained minor injuries and three members of the US team suffered injuries including a broken leg.
The Australian team were partying after winning bronze at the world championships (pictured) and were said to be ‘deeply shocked’ by the accident
The balcony of the Coyote Ugly nightclub in Gwangju collapsed shortly after 2am Saturday morning
‘This is an awful tragedy,’ CEO of USA Water Polo Christopher Ramsey said.
‘Players from our men’s and women’s teams were celebrating the women’s world championship victory when the collapse occurred at a public club. Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families.’
Video from inside the nightclub shows patrons holding the remaining parts of the balcony up moments after the collapse.
A spokesperson for Water Polo Australia confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that members of the Australian team were at the nightclub when the balcony collapsed.
‘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.’
‘All Australian players are safe and uninjured.’
Emergency crews were called to the nightclub following the incident
The team were partying after winning bronze at the world championships and were said to be ‘deeply shocked’ by the accident.
Yonhap news agency reported that nine athletes competing in the 2019 FINA aquatic World Championships were injured, though none of them seriously.
They included the four from the United States, two from New Zealand, and one each from the Netherlands, Italy and Brazil, Yonhap said, citing city and fire department officials.
FINA said in a statement said it was closely monitoring the fallout.
‘FINA is carefully monitoring the situation and will activate all measures to ensure health care and assistance is provided whenever necessary.’
The Australian women’s water polo team had been awarded a bronze medal at the world championships earlier in the day after beating Hungary.
The United States won their third straight gold medal, beating Spain 11-6.
The medal was Australia’s first in the world championships since 2013 when they won the silver medal.
New Zealand men’s team captain Matt Small told Radio Sport he was standing on the balcony when it fell. Pictured: the collapsed balcony in the nightclub
Video from inside the nightclub show patrons holding the remaining parts of the balcony up