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Vietnam races to restart play after roof collapses on court

HANOI (Reuters) - Organizers of badminton's Vietnam Open rushed to set up a new venue on Wednesday and resume play for the shuttlers who had a narrow escape from a ceiling collapse at an indoor stadium.

Players and spectators at the $50,000 tournament in Ho Chi Minh City were unharmed but shaken on Tuesday evening when a section of the roof crashed onto both courts at the Phan Dinh Phung Sports Center, a venue that was earmarked for renovation.

The referee halted two simultaneous first-round singles matches when the roof started to move and quickly ushered the four players off the courts moments before the accident.

Dramatic footage recorded by a crowd member and uploaded on YouTube showed spectators dashing for cover as the ceiling fell, leaving a pile of debris and sending a plume of dust into the air.

"This stadium was too old, nearly 30 years old," said Mai Ba Hung, deputy head of the city's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

"It is awaiting major reconstruction, so safety checks may have been a bit loose," Hung told Reuters by telephone.

He said the tournament had been shifted to the city's Tan Binh Sports Center and an investigation into the ceiling collapse would take place.

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Amlan Chakrbaorty)

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