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Saturday, Oct 18, 2014

Asia

S Korean safety official dead after concert tragedy kills 16

AFP | Saturday, Oct 18, 2014

SEOUL - An official dealing with safety measures at a concert in South Korea where 16 people died when the grate they were standing collapsed apparently committed suicide hours after the tragedy, authorities said Saturday.

The death of the 37-year-old local government official, surnamed Oh, was announced as South Korean police launched an investigation into the Friday incident at an outdoor pop concert in the city of Seongnam.

The victims were standing on a ventilation grating to get a better view when the structure collapsed under their weight, sending them plunging 18.7 metres (62 feet) down into an underground parking area.

Amateur video footage obtained by the YTN news channel 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.

Disaster relief spokesman Kim Nam-Jun told journalists Saturday that Oh, who worked with a group sponsoring the concert, apparently committed suicide after jumping off a building near where the tragedy took place.

He was found dead early Saturday a few hours after he was interrogated by police over the disaster, YTN TV said.

Kim also said authorities had inspected the site Saturday.

"A joint team of police and national forensic experts scoured the site this morning and closely inspected gratings and related structures," he said.

Police have questioned 15 people, including officials of the local Internet news provider which financed and organised the concert, Yonhap news agency said.

"If it turns out that safety regulations were ignored, we would bring criminal charges against them," a police official was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

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