Stampede in Seoul: more than 150 dead in a Halloween festival in South Korea

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  • BBC News World
29 October 2022

Updated 1 hour

image source, Getty Images

Caption,

The emergency services could not cope with the number of victims.

At least 151 people died this Saturday in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, when a stampede was registered in a massive event for the Halloween parties.

The number of deceased increased quickly in a matter of hours. Authorities also reported more than 80 people injured.

Most of the dead and wounded were adolescents and young people under 30 years of age. of the deceased, 19 were foreigners.

The cause of the human avalanche is not yet clear. The high number of victims was due to “many being trampled”, a fire chief said.

After holding an emergency meeting, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered a task force to be established to help the victims. He also ordered the launch of an investigation into the cause of the incident.

The district Itaewon is a popular nightlife area of ​​the South Korean capital. Reports say that at one point there were about 100,000 people there.

Although Halloween is not a big celebration in South Korea in general, Itaewon has an international cultural atmosphere and is the traditional venue for Halloween celebrations.

It was the first holiday no social distancing measures since the start of the covid-19 pandemic.

image source, Reuters

Many young people, some in Halloween costumes, enjoyed the night on the streets and in nightclubs.

The authorities confirmed that there are foreigners among the injured.

What is known about the incident?

Authorities said they are investigating the exact cause of the incident that occurred around 10:20 p.m. local time (1:20 p.m. GMT) on Saturday.

The human avalanche occurred in an elevated area, causing a massive crush into a narrow alleyaccording to the first indications.

A street guarded by authorities in Itaewon

image source, Reuters

Caption,

The crowd was trapped in a narrow alley.

Several videos posted on social media showed emergency workers and festival goers carrying out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to victimsas well as rescuers trying to extricate people trapped under others.

The area was plunged into chaos and people were horrified as the fatalities lay under blue and yellow sheets.

Jeon Ga-eul, 30, was having a drink at a bar at the time the chaos began.

“My friend said ‘something terrible is happening outside,'” she told the AFP news agency. “I said ‘What are you talking about?’ And then I went out to see and there were people doing CPR on the street.”

Most of the dead were in their teens or twenties.said Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire department. Of the injured, 19 were seriously injured and 57 did not require further attention.

Many of the victims “were trampled on,” according to the official.

Itaewon Halloween Festival Attendees

image source, Reuters

“On one street, more than a dozen people lay on the ground, their bodies covered in blue blankets. They were then carried, apparently unconscious, into ambulances,” said Jean Mackenzie, the BBC’s Seoul correspondent.

“Itaewon is one of the most popular places to go out at night and Halloween is one of the busiest weekends of the year“, he explained.

Feeling of “insecurity”

About 100,000 people were celebrating in the area the first Halloween party without outdoor masks since the pandemic.

Some messages posted on social networks during the afternoon show several people commenting that Itaewon was so crowded that there was sensation of insecureity.

“Very unsafe in Itaewon right now,” one Twitter user wrote at the time the crush is believed to have begun.

Another warned anyone in the nearby area that they should “consider going home.”

Itaewon Halloween Festival Attendees

image source, Reuters

Raphael Rashid, a festival goer, told the BBC that he arrived in the area around 7pm and there were already more people in the neighborhood than he had ever seen before.

“By 10 at night it was clear that there were too many people and something was already happening at that time. There were tens of thousands of people, the largest number I have ever seen,” he said.

“It got to the point where they crushed us on the pavementWe even had to invade the street where there were cars”.

“At that point we could hear a lot of firefighters, ambulances and police trying to get through the crowd. No one really understood what was going onbut there were already several officers desperately asking people to leave the area as soon as possible.”

A woman is attended by rescuers

image source, Getty Images

Hosu ​​Lee, a BBC journalist, visited the scene and said he saw “many medical personnel and many ambulances taking the bodies away one by one.”

“Many young people have gathered here tonight. Many people came to the party and club in disguise. I have seen a lot of anguished and sad people“added the reporter.

Photos and videos show emergency workers and civilians helping what appear to be unconscious people on the street.

People covered with blankets on the ground

image source, Getty Images

Another local reporter said that an emergency broadcast had been sent to all mobile phones in Yongsan district urging citizens to return home as soon as possible due to “an emergency accident near the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon.”

One witness, Park Jung-Hoon, told Reuters that large crowds were normal for the Christmas celebration, but “This was ten times bigger.”

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Tags: Stampede Seoul dead Halloween festival South Korea

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