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SEOUL, South Korea — The roof of a resort auditorium collapsed during a welcoming ceremony for South Korean university freshmen, killing at least eight students and seriously injuring 15 others, officials said Tuesday. More than 10 people were feared trapped as heavy snow reportedly hampered rescue operations.
Fifty-eight other students received minor injuries after the collapse late today, according to an official at the state-run National Emergency Management Agency who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. He confirmed the eight deaths and said rescuers feared at least 10 other people were trapped, but didn’t provide further details on injuries or rescue operations.
South Korean media reported that the heavy snowfall was believed to have resulted in the collapse, but the cause was still being investigated.
The collapse came as about 1,000 students from Busan University of Foreign Studies gathered for freshman orientation at the resort in the southeastern city of Gyeongju. More than 500 of the students were in an auditorium when the roof collapsed, the official said.
Many of the students managed to get out of the building by themselves, he said.
Repeated calls to the university and the resort were unanswered.
Gyeongju is a historic city that served as the capital of one of the Korean Peninsula’s ancient kingdoms. It is a popular tourist destination.