The New Paper
Friday, Feb 06, 2015
A 12-year-old member of a Japanese pop group went into a coma after inhaling helium for a stunt on a television show, Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi said yesterday.
The girl is part of 3B Junior, a 25-strong collective of 10-to-16-year-olds, and was one of five youngsters taking part in the recording of a variety show on Jan 28, a TV Asahi spokesman said.
She was inhaling helium from a canister as part of a game that involved changing her voice, when she fell unconscious.
She was rushed to a Tokyo hospital, where local media reported she was found to have suffered an embolism in the blood supply to her brain.
"There are signs of recovery, but she is still not fully fit," the TV Asahi spokesman told AFP on Thursday.
SIGNS OF ACTIVITY
She is now showing signs of activity, including the moving of her eyes and limbs. She has also been able to drink liquids, TV Asahi managing director Toru Takeda told The Tokyo Reporter.
Despite her public status, her name was not revealed because she is a minor.
According to the network, a staff member failed to realise that the products used to discharge the helium were manufactured for adults.
Police are investigating the matter, AFP reported.
TV Asahi has apologised for the incident and said an internal probe into the case was under way.
The programme recorded on the day of the incident is scheduled to be broadcast on Feb 25.
TV Asahi is now considering whether to cancel the broadcast.
"There is a possibility that there was a problem with the management of safety measures during recording," a representative of TV Asahi said
"It is highly regrettable."
3B Junior is affiliated with Momoiro Clover Z, one of the most popular idol groups in Japan.
In Japanese television, hundreds of celebrities compete for airtime on shows that sometimes involve dangerous or humiliating tasks.
In 2012, a popular comedian broke his back when he jumped into a swimming
Inhaling helium is a common party trick but previous deaths have been recorded. The UK's Public Health Agency warns that "breathing in helium... deprives vital organs of essential oxygen" and can cause "dizziness, headache and suffocation".
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