2 killed, US athletes among the injured when balcony collapses at South Korean nightclub

Two people were killed, and 17 people -- including three American athletes -- were hurt when a balcony collapsed at the Coyote Ugly nightclub in Gwangju, South Korea.

GWANGJU, South Korea — Two people were killed and 16 were injured -- including some American athletes -- after an internal balcony collapsed at a South Korean nightclub early Saturday, The Associated Press reported.

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The American athletes, competing in the FINA world aquatics championships, were dancing inside the Coyote Ugly nightclub in Gwangju, South Korea, when a balcony and staircase collapsed, according to The Washington Post.


Other athletes in attendance at the nightclub were from New Zealand, the Netherlands, Italy and Brazil, BBC reported. The two people killed were from South Korea, ages 38 and 27, and were not competing at the championships, the BBC reported.

There were about 370 people inside the club, BBC reported.

The American athletes were with the U.S. water polo team, the AP reported. One of the Americans, a Kaleigh Gilchrist of Newport Beach, California, had a deep left leg laceration and underwent surgery at a hospital in Gwangju, South Korea, according to Greg Mescall, director of communications for USA Water Polo. Gilchrist said in an Instagram post that surgery on her leg went well.

"I want to thank everyone for their support and calls and messages. It means a lot," Gilchrist wrote. "Surgery on my leg went well and I can't wait to get back in the pool with the squad.

"I'm keeping everyone else affected by this tragedy in my thoughts and I hope you will too."

Mescall told the AP Paige Hauschild of Santa Barbara, California, had lacerations on her right arm and Johnny Hooper of Los Angeles required stitches in his left hand. He said Ben Hallock of Westlake Village, California, has minor leg scrapes.

A spokesman for USA Water Polo declined to comment on any injuries out of "respect to athlete privacy,"  the Post reported. The U.S. women's water polo team won the world title Friday against Spain.

"This is an awful tragedy," Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo, said in a statement, according to the AP. "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."