Resort roof collapse kills at least 10 in Gyeongju, South Korea
Agence France-Presse in Seoul
Ten people were killed and dozens more feared trapped after an auditorium collapsed under heavy snow yesterday at a resort in the southern South Korean city of Gyeongju, rescue workers said.
As many as 450 students were believed to have been attending a concert in the building when the roof caved in at around 9.15pm local time.
Watch: Student tragedy in S. Korea as building collapse kills 10
Police officials quoted by the Yonhap news agency said ten people had been confirmed killed in the collapse and at least a dozen were thought to still be trapped inside the building, down from around 50 earlier in the evening.
Nine of the dead were college students whilst the tenth fatality was believed to be a party organiser, police said, adding that three students and 11 party organisers remained unaccounted for.
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 any 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 400 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."
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.
"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 an orientation event for close to 1,000 first-year students from a foreign language college in the southern city of Busan.
Yonhap news agency reported that the students were attending a concert in the auditorium when the roof fell in. Many of the students managed to get out of the building by themselves, it said.
The is was in an area that has experienced exceptionally heavy snowfall over the past week. Local fire officials said they had difficulty reaching the scene of the collapse because the resort is high in the mountains and it was snowing last night.
Gyeongju is a historic city that served as the capital of one of the Korean peninsula's ancient kingdoms.
Additional reporting by Associated Press