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23 February 2024

Stage crash ends Lanka's 5-star New Year bash


Dozens of party-goers were hospitalised in Sri Lanka on Wednesday after a stage collapsed at the five-star Colombo Hilton hotel during New Year celebrations, organisers of the festivities said.

At least 30 people were hospitalised with fractures, cuts and burns following the collapse of the outdoor stage, hurling some 700 people to the floor a few feet below, sparking fires and smashing glasses, a spokesman said.

There was no immediate comment from the hotel, but event manager Cantaloupe Playground, which arranged what was billed as the "wonderland new year's eve" party, apologised to the victims.

"We apologise for the incident and we are paying hospital bills of the injured," a spokesman for Cantaloupe Playground told AFP, asking not to be named. "About 30 were hospitalised... We are refunding the ticket money."

Guests had paid $100 each to join the party.

Party-goer Nathashi Wijesundera said she helped some of the victims before being told that she herself had multiple burns on her legs.

"I ended up treating people in the car park and going with one in the ambulance to Nawaloka (hospital)," Wijesundera said on her Facebook page, where she posted three photographs of the chaos.

One showed empty couches strewn on the ground after the crash while another showed a worker trying to clear up broken glass. The third showed people still milling around after the collapse.

Most people suffered head injuries, cuts, bruises, burns, concussions and sprains, she said.

Another wounded reveller, Anisha Niyas, said the New Year's Eve was the "worst night of my life".

"There was blood and broken glass everywhere. I spent the first few minutes of 2014 on my hands and knees surrounded by glass and people crying in pain," she wrote on her Facebook page.

"The worst possible party I have been to," wrote another party-goer Shenali Candappa.