A massive screen fell from height and struck two performers during a concert in Hong Kong by the city’s most popular boy band, Mirror, leaving a dancer severely injured and the audience in shock.
The moving screen plunged from the ceiling midway through a show at the Hong Kong Coliseum on Thursday night. It crashed on a dancer before falling onto another performer. Other performers and staff members immediately rushed to their aid, while some stood stunned.
“The entire hall screamed,” Ng, a fan who witnessed the incident along with her 11-year-old daughter from the first few rows, told VICE World News. “They laid unmoving on the stage, so we knew they must have been hurt really badly,” said Ng, who provided only her last name.
“No one knew how to react because no one ever expected an accident of this scale,” said Sharon, who asked to be identified only by her first name.
The organizer abruptly ended the concert and instructed the audience to leave the venue immediately. On her way out, Sharon saw audience members who had fainted as well as many in tears. She herself could not recover from the shock till late at night.
Selected through a reality television talent show, the 12-member ensemble saw a meteoric rise to stardom since they debuted in 2018. The idols attracted legions of devoted fans and snatched top awards across the region, injecting new life into Cantopop. The tragedy was particularly upsetting for followers of Mirror who found refuge in the band’s sprightly dance amid the gloom of the pandemic and the city’s authoritarian turn under Beijing’s tightening control.
Despite Mirror’s commercial success, ViuTV, the company that backed the group, has routinely come under criticism for exploitation. They were accused of stretching meager budgets to meet their goals and paying subcontractors far below the industry standards.
The dancer, who was directly hit by the screen, remained in intensive care by Friday evening. He was conscious and able to communicate with the doctor, Lo Ting-fai, CEO of the concert organizer MakerVille, told the press on Friday. Local media reported that he suffered spinal fractures and his limbs were paralyzed. Another dancer had minor injuries, including muscle strains and scrapes.
Lo apologized and pledged to thoroughly investigate the incident, while the organizer later canceled the remaining gigs, which were originally set to run daily till August 6.
An initial probe by authorities found that one of two metal cords holding the screen snapped. The Hong Kong government, which manages the venue, is also responsible for issuing safety permits prior to the show.
The horrifying incident followed a string of accidents that have plagued the concert since its start on Monday and sparked concerns from fans. On Tuesday night, Frankie Chan Sui-fai, a group member, fell off the stage. The fall prompted more than 13,000 fans to sign an online petition calling on the organizers to ensure the safety of the performers.
During the first two shows, fans also noticed that some of the elevated platforms the pop stars were standing on were wobbly. “People are very upset because we have spoken out, urging the organizer to address the issue of safety, yet this still occurred,” Sharon said.
Some have blamed the accidents on shoddy structures and a lack of time for sufficient preparation.
“I’ve never been part of a show that could not complete a full run before it starts,” a member of the production team told VICE World News. “There wasn’t enough time and everything was hastily done. They might have underestimated the complexity of the performance and contraptions.”
Ahfa Wong Wai-kwan, manager of the band, repeatedly rebuked the producer for technical mishaps during rehearsals. Many of the platforms did not move on cue and sometimes shifted while performers were dancing, causing them to stumble, according to the staff member. The producer assured them the set would work properly during the actual performance.
The final dress rehearsal, which was supposed to take place the evening before the first show on Monday, was cut short in the wee hours, after a dancer fell into a hole and was sent to a hospital. It prompted outrage from other dancers, who protested with black screens on Instagram.
“I believe every witness will suffer from some degree of PTSD,” the production staff member added.