Hanoi: Thanks to the quick work of a match referee, no-one was injured when 40 square meters (430 square feet) of plaster ceiling collapsed onto the court in a cloud of debris at the Phan Dinh Phung Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday.
“It’s pitiful. The plaster ceiling was outdated,” Le Thanh Ha, head of the badminton section of Vietnam’s Sports and Gymnastics Department.
Players and officials left the court moments before the collapse after a Taiwanese player, Lu Chia, spotted dust falling from the ceiling and raised the alarm, state media reported.
The players and officials on court ran for cover – and, just moments later, the roof of the ceiling collapsed, leaving a pile of debris on the court and sending a huge cloud of dust into the air.
“I looked up and I realized we had to evacuate immediately,” Julie Carrel, the main referee in the stadium at the time, told the Tuoi Tre newspaper.
Malaysian shuttlers – Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Goh Soon Huat, Yang Li Lian, Lim Chiew Sien and Lim Yin Fu were at the stadium for the first round of the Vietnam Open GP tournament, when the roof came down at about 7.15pm.
Fans also shouted out warnings to the players and other officials on the court to run to safety.
“Man, I have never seen anything like this before, I ran for my life, and fortunately no one got hurt,” said Iskandar.
Badminton World Federation (BWF) events manager Venu Mahalingam said the world body is investigating the incident and awaiting a report from the organizers, the Ho Chi Minh City Badminton Association. The tournament was moved to the Tan Binh Sports Center, which hosted the 2003 SEA Games badminton competition.