Seoul Halloween stampede kills 149, injures 150

Seoul Halloween stampede kills 149, injures 150

A gathering of primarily young people celebrating Halloween in Seoul became trapped and crushed Saturday night when the crowd poured into a tight alley, resulting in South Korea’s biggest disaster in years, with at least 149 deaths and 150 injuries.

After the congestion in the capital’s Itaewon entertainment district, emergency personnel and bystanders frantically performed CPR on those laying in the street.

Following the rush, Choi Seong-beom, chief of the Yongsan fire department in Seoul, stated that the dead toll could grow and that an unidentified number of the injured were in severe condition. He stated that the remains were being transported to hospitals or a gym so that grieving relatives could identify them. He previously stated that the majority of the deceased and injured are in their twenties.

More than 1,700 reaction people from across the nation were dispatched to the streets to assist the injured. Approximately 520 firefighters, 1,100 police officers, and 70 government employees were among the responders. Separately, the National Fire Agency stated that officials were still attempting to determine the precise number of emergency patients.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Itaewon has hosted the country’s largest outdoor Halloween celebrations, with an estimated 100,000 people in attendance. In recent months, the South Korean government loosened COVID-19 regulations. Itaewon is an expat-friendly neighborhood known for its trendy pubs, clubs, and restaurants. It is located close where the old headquarters of U.S. military forces in South Korea operated before moving out of the city in 2018.

It was not immediately apparent what prompted the mob to rush into the confined downhill alley close to the Hamilton Hotel, a renowned Seoul party venue. After being pushed by others, according to one survivor, numerous individuals tumbled and went over “like dominoes.” According to the Seoul-based Hankyoreh newspaper, a survivor called Kim stated that they were stuck for nearly an hour and a half before being rescued, during which time some people yelled “Help me!” while others were out of breath.

Lee Chang-kyu, another survivor, told the newspaper that he observed five or six guys start shoving others before one or two starting falling one by one at the beginning of the stampede.

The rush is the worst calamity since April 2014, when 304 people, largely high school students, perished in a ferry accident. The sinking exposed low safety regulations and regulatory failings, as it was partially attributed to an excessive amount of cargo that was improperly secured and an unprepared crew for emergency scenarios. The public will undoubtedly criticize government authorities for their efforts to strengthen public safety standards since the boat accident in light of Friday’s stampede.

TV images and photographs depicted ambulances queuing up in the streets alongside a significant police presence and emergency personnel transporting injured patients on stretchers. Onlookers and emergency personnel were also observed administering CPR to stricken individuals in the streets. In one location, paramedics were observed assessing the health of a dozen or more individuals who were still and covered in blue blankets.

Hwang Min-hyeok, a tourist to Itaewon, stated in an interview with the news channel YTN that it was disturbing to witness rows of dead in an alley near the Hamilton Hotel. According to him, emergency personnel were initially swamped, leaving pedestrians to administer CPR to the injured who were laying in the street. People wept amid corpses, he stated.

Yonhap news agency claimed that another survivor in his twenties avoided being crushed by entering a pub whose door was open in the alley. A woman in her twenties with the surname Park told Yonhap that she and others were on the side of the alley while others were in the middle.

President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea released a statement urging officials to ensure prompt medical care for the injured and assess the safety of the celebration places. In addition, he ordered the Health Ministry to rapidly send disaster medical support teams and secure hospital beds for treating the injured.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government released urgent text messages encouraging residents to return home immediately.

President Biden sent a message Saturday evening expressing his and his wife Jill’s sympathies to the families of those who lost loved ones in Seoul. “We share the Republic of Korea’s sorrow and extend our best wishes for a speedy recovery to all those who were hurt. The Alliance between our two nations has never been stronger or more crucial, and the connections between our people are greater than ever. In this tragic period, the United States stands with the Republic of Korea.”

In the past, there have been fatal stampedes in South Korea. In 2005, eleven people were murdered and over sixty others were injured during a stampede during a musical event in the southern city of Sangju. In 1992, a teenage girl was killed and scores of others were injured after a stampede during a New Kids on the Block concert in Seoul.

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