More Than 150 Killed in Seoul Halloween Stampede

At least 153 people were killed and 133 others were injured in South Korea’s biggest disaster in years when a crowd of primarily young people celebrating Halloween in Seoul were trapped and crushed. After the Saturday night congestion in Itaewon, the capital’s entertainment centre, emergency personnel and pedestrians desperately gave CPR to victims laying in the streets.

Choi Seong-beom, chief of the Yongsan fire department in Seoul, said that the majority of those killed or injured were teenagers and adults in their 20s. According to the Ministry of the Interior, at least some of the deceased were foreigners, though their nationalities were not immediately disclosed. Given that several of the injured were in serious condition, the death toll could increase further. Initially reporting 150 injuries as of Sunday morning, officials later revised their estimate.

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Officials from the National Fire Agency did not immediately explain why the number was lower but claimed that as rescue operations continued, emergency personnel would have had a more accurate sense of the casualties and that some of the injured would have been converted to deaths. It was also possible that some of the people who had suffered minor wounds had gone home the previous night and were no longer included in the count.

Since the pandemic started, Itaewon has hosted the largest outdoor Halloween celebrations in the nation, with an estimated 100,000 visitors. In recent months, the COVID-19 limits were loosened by the South Korean government. In Itaewon, a neighbourhood that welcomes ex-pats and is known for its hip bars, clubs, and restaurants, the old headquarters of the United States military troops in South Korea operated before leaving the capital in 2018.

Throughout 1,700 reaction personnel from all over the nation, including about 520 firefighters, 1,100 police officers, and 70 government employees, were sent to the streets to aid the injured. The precise number of emergency patients is still being calculated, according to a second statement from the National Fire Agency.

What prompted the mob to pour into the small, downhill lane close to the Hamilton Hotel, a popular Seoul nightlife destination, was not immediately apparent. One witness claimed that after being pushed by others, numerous individuals collapsed and toppled one another “like dominos.”

Seoul Halloween Stampede
Seoul Halloween Stampede

According to the Seoul-based Hankyoreh newspaper, the survivor, who went by the name of Kim, claimed they were imprisoned for nearly an hour and a half before being freed. During that time, some people yelled “Help me!” and others were gasping for air.

According to the newspaper, Lee Chang-kyu, another witness, claimed that at the beginning of the stampede, he saw five to six men shoving each other before one or two started to fall one by one.

Since 304 people, largely high school students, perished in a ferry sinking in April 2014, the stampede is the worst calamity that has occurred. The sinking, which was largely attributed to an abundance of goods that was improperly tied and a crew that had not received adequate emergency training, exposed low safety regulations and regulatory failings.

Public criticism of government officials’ actions to raise safety standards following the boat accident is likely to result from Friday’s stampede. TV footage and pictures displayed a dense police presence, a line-up of ambulances, and emergency personnel escorting the injured on stretchers.

People laying in the streets were spotted receiving CPR from both emergency personnel and passersby. In one area, paramedics could be seen checking on a dozen or more patients who were immobile and covered in blue blankets.

One of the tourists visiting Itaewon, Hwang Min-hyeok, stated in an interview with the news outlet YTN that it was disturbing to find rows of dead stretched out in the alley close to the Hamilton Hotel. He claimed that at first, emergency personnel were overburdened, leaving people scrambling to do CPR on the injured who were laying on the streets. People wept next to the bodies, he claimed.

Another survivor in his 20s claimed that by entering a bar whose door was open at the alley, he managed to avoid being crushed, according to the Yonhap news agency. According to a woman in her 20s with the last name Park, she and others were standing at the side of the alley while others were trapped in the centre.

Emergency text messages were sent out by the Seoul Metropolitan Government requesting that locals hurry back home. President Biden sent a message on Saturday night in which he expressed his and Jill’s “heartfelt sympathies” to the families of those who perished in Seoul. “We express our condolences to the people of the Republic of Korea and wish everyone who was hurt a speedy recovery.

The bonds between our people are closer than ever, and the Alliance between our two nations has never been more vital or alive. In this tragic period, the United States supports the Republic of Korea.”

In the past, there have been fatal stampedes in South Korea. In 2005, a stampede at a pop performance in the southern city of Sangju resulted in 11 fatalities and about 60 injuries. A teenage girl lost her life and numerous others were hurt in a stampede at a 1992 New Kids on the Block concert in Seoul.

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