CHINA Wuhan couple crushed to death by movable chairs at show offered to medical workers


Wuhan couple crushed to death by movable chairs at show offered to medical workers

Global Times

19:43, September 18, 2020

The lantern-shaped Han Show Theatre in Wuhan of Central China's Hubei Province. (Photo: VCG)

A couple in Wuhan of Central China's Hubei Province died in an accident that occurred at the city's Han Show Theatre on September 7 after watching a show offered to medical workers who fought against COVID-19 on the frontlines, the emergency management authority in Wuchang district of Wuhan announced on Thursday.

The couple were trying to save their son who fell out of one of the movable chairs when the show was about to finish as the theatre is known as a large multifunctional auditorium, reported. Unfortunately, they were crushed by the movable chairs and died. Their son was caught by a safety net, according to media reports.

Deng Wei, general manager of Wuhan Wanda Dragone Performing Arts Co (Wanda Dragone), which owns the theatre, and Deng Wulin, an operation specialist of the company, have been removed from their positions and fired after the accident, the cultural and tourism management company of Wangda Group announced on Friday.

It also said that an expert team is investigating the cause of the accident and identifying the responsible parties.

Wanda Dragone and the family of the deceased have reached an agreement on compensation and other matters, and the handling of the deceased persons involved has been organized, the Wuchang authority said.

The Han Show Theatre, featuring both aerial and aquatic shows, is the world's first-ever water show theatre with movable and rising seats, according to its official website. It said its rising seat platform, built with cutting-edge technologies, is the core part of the theatre, covering an area of 1,100 square meters and containing 2,000 movable seats.

Like the multipurpose hall system that aims to make the venue more flexible to host a multitude of different events based on complicated mechanical and operation systems, the platform can move the audience to the left and right, up and down according to the plot of the show, so as to ensure there is no blind spot for the audience to watch the show with a 360 degree view.

According to a WeChat article of the theatre, the platform is driven by eight hydraulic cylinders. There is an arc track also under the platform, which can be rotated after being driven by the cylinders.

A staff member of the theatre said there is no bumper, safety rope or other protective equipment on the seat, however, "the seats moves very slowly and are generally safe," Beijing News reported.

There is also no age or height limit on audience members at the show, the theatre's website shows.

The theatre has since been closed and it is unknown when it will reopen. The wife of the couple is reportedly a nurse from Tongji Hospital of Wuhan, who had fought COVID-19 on the frontline. Her husband is also a doctor from the same hospital.

The accident sparked widespread controversy over the show on China's social media, with many questioning the safety measures of the theatre.

"Who would've thought that a child would become an orphan after watching a spectacular performance? High-tech things are good, but their safety issues must be carefully considered," a netizen commented.

Some questioned that the theatre may have abused its use of the multipurpose hall system by unnecessarily expanding the venue for performance purposes.

"You are using a technical system to raise and lower the audience in shows. We are all props," a netizen commented.

Many also called for such entertainment venues to impose limitations on the age or height of child audience members to avoid such accidents.

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