TOKYO (TR) – It was 32 years ago on Sunday that three persons perished and another dozen persons were injured after a large lighting structure accidentally fell at a club in the Roppongi district of Minato Ward.
At around 9:40 p.m on January 5, 1988, the structure, which weighed 1.8 tons, accidentally fell about 10 meters to the dance floor at club Turia, which had about 200 patrons inside, according to media reports.
The massive oval-shaped structure, which measured 5.5 meters wide and 3.5 meters wide, crushed some of the patrons. Shards of broken glass sent flying injured others.
Akemi Mizobe, a 21-year-old female nurse, another woman, a 26-year-old staff member at a prep school, and a 24-year-old male officer worker were later confirmed dead. Eleven other women and three other men also were injured.
“All of a sudden, I heard a thunderous crash and [Mizobe] disappeared,’ a college student was quoted by wire service UPI. “She was pinned under the chandelier, blood streaming from her head.”
Authorities said at the time that the elaborate structure, equipped with about one dozen stobe and spot lights and several video screens, was desiged to be raised and lowered via a system of eight wires, each 6 millimeters thick, from the second-floor ceiling to the dance floor on the first.
At the time of the incident, about 30 dancers were on the floor. Some persons who were directly beneath the empty center of the structure managed to escape injury.
The incident sent the patrons present into “mass pandemonium,” the Japan Times reported. Other outlets said that among the patrons were professional baseball player Masumi Kuwata and actress
The following day, Akira Akagi, president of the Turia’s parent company, Marusho Kosan Co., offered an apology at a press conference.
The design of the system called for the structure to be raised and lowered no more than four times per day. However, witnesses said that it was routinely in operation up to 20 times.
The previous November, the wire system stopped working. According to an attorney for Marusho Kosan, repairs were completed before testing on December 26.
“But last night, the switch was up and the structure was going up and about 10 meters above the floor it suddenly fell. I don’t know if the trouble occurred with the control system or the cable, but the cable wasn’t cut,” the attorney was quoted by UPI.
It was initially reported that the cause of the accident was a mistake on the part of a staff member. However, it was later learned that the maximum load possible for the wire system was exceeded when the
structure was in motion.
A court later handed the president of the company in charge of the design of the structure a suspended prison term. Employees of the club were not prosecuted in the case.