South Korea looks for explanations as Halloween celebrations result in 151 fatalities

South Korea looks for explanations as Halloween celebrations result in 151 fatalities

South Korea looks for explanations as Halloween celebrations result in 151 fatalities

South Korea looks for explanations as Halloween celebrations result in 151 fatalities

South Korea’s Seoul

South Korea is looking for explanations after Halloween festivities in the nation’s capital Seoul turned into one of its worst tragedies. As they look into how a chaotic crush left at least 151 people dead, the government has proclaimed a period of national mourning.

Itaewon, a renowned nightlife district, was overrun by tens of thousands of costumed partygoers, largely teenagers and young adults, who came to celebrate South Korea’s first Halloween since the Covid regulations regarding crowd size and face mask usage were abolished.

However, the celebrations quickly devolved into anarchy, as evidenced by the massive crowds squeezing into a tiny lane in social media images and videos. Witnesses reported that partygoers were crammed so closely together that it was difficult to breathe or even move around.

When “suddenly, some individuals started pushing each other, and people were yelling,” Suah Cho, 23, was strolling through an alley. She claimed that the shouting continued for 15 minutes, adding, “It was just panic.”

She said, “Some people were moving forward and some were moving backward, and then they were just pushing each other.” She managed to get into a building along the alley and observe the catastrophe from there. Somebody had allegedly told her that “people were climbing the building to survive,” she claimed.

The incident’s exact cause is still under investigation, but Choi Seong-bum, chief of the Yongsan-gu Fire Department, called it a “presumed stampede,” adding that many people fell and at least 82 were hurt.

According to him, the dead included at least 19 foreign nationals from countries like Iran, Norway, China, and Uzbekistan. The Thai Foreign Ministry reported that one of the victims was a Thai national.

On Sunday, the mayhem of Saturday was replaced with shock and grief all around the nation. At a nearby centre in Itaewon, where authorities are compiling the names of the dead and missing as they scramble to identify bodies, many victims’ families have congregated.

In a briefing on Sunday, Lee Sang-min, the minister of interior and safety, stated that more than 90% of those who have died so far have been recognised. Approximately 10 persons, he continued, cannot be identified since some of them are under the age of 17, making them unable to possess a national ID card, while others are foreign nationals.

But many people are still missing, leaving families to phone hospitals and go to cemeteries in a state of agitation. According to the municipal government, Seoul officials had received more than 3,580 reports of missing people by 2 p.m. local time on Sunday.

South Korea looks for explanations as Halloween celebrations result in 151 fatalities

Ahn Yeon-seon, a mother, told the South Korean news agency Yonhap that her 19-year-old daughter had gone out to celebrate with her boyfriend for one of their final outings before he departed for conscription.

Ahn added that her daughter’s boyfriend contacted her crying several hours after the pair had gone, lamenting the fact that she had been “under a mound of people for almost an hour and that he’d attempted to get her out but couldn’t.”

Since then, Ahn has been looking through hospitals for her daughter while she waits for word on what transpired. I’ll simply keep looking, she said to Yonhap.

Questions are being raised about how such a catastrophe could have have happened, despite the fact that the government has initiated an investigation and promised new steps to stop similar disasters from occurring again.

The 23-year-old woman who survived the crush, Cho, claimed she didn’t see any police or other authorities attempting to manage the crowd before the crush started. Confusion and panic persisted even when they arrived later on in the evening.

Because so many people were dressed as characters, she said, “we couldn’t really tell that that was a real police officer because the cop was screaming.” Literally, “Are you a real police officer?” was what many were asking.

South Korea’s Halloween crush is captured on video as the crowd swells.

Crowd crush at Itaewon: “I tried to do CPR, but they were both dead.”

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