Vietnam stadium cave-in blamed on 'pitiful' building

HANOI - A Vietnamese sport official on Thursday blamed "pitiful" construction at an antiquated stadium for a dramatic ceiling collapse midway through an international badminton tournament.

Thanks to the quick work of a match referee, no-one was injured when 40 square metres (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 The plaster ceiling was outdated," Le Thanh Ha, head of the badminton section of Vietnam's Sports and Gymnastics Department, told AFP.

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.

"I looked up and I realised we had to evacuate immediately," Julie Carrel, the main referee in the stadium at the time, told the Tuoi Tre newspaper.

A video clip posted on YouTube showed images of chunks of plaster plunging onto the stadium floor as stunned spectators shouted in horror.

The tournament, the Vietnam Badminton Open 2014, is continuing after organisers relocated the event to another stadium in the southern Vietnamese city, badminton official Ha said.

According to the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper, the plaster ceiling was installed in 1994 but a renovation plan announced in 2012 was yet to begin.

The eight-day Vietnam Badminton Open 2014 gathers more than 230 players from 15 countries. It is scheduled to end on Sunday.