At least 151 people were killed in a crush as large Halloween crowds pushed onto a tiny street in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, said officials.
At least 82 people were injured in the Itaewon nightlife neighborhood, which was hosting its first uncovered Halloween event since COVID.
According to reports, people caught up in the jam were piled on top of each other. The majority of those killed were teenagers or young adults in their twenties. Nineteen of them were foreigners.
The causes of the disaster are still being investigated.
Following an emergency meeting, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol directed the formation of a task force to assist in the treatment of the injured. He also started looking into what caused the crush.
With the current death toll, this is South Korea’s biggest tragedy since 2014, when the Sewol ferry sank, killing more than 300 people.
Itaewon is one of Seoul’s most prominent nightlife areas. Every weekend, both tourists and locals rush there, but Halloween is one of the biggest evenings of the year.
On Saturday, an estimated 100,000 people came to celebrate the first Halloween since the pandemic’s inception, when gathering sizes were not limited and individuals were not required to wear masks outside.
The crush appears to have begun in a tight, slanted lane that was already congested. Social media images and videos reveal the lane was so crowded that people were unable to move. In one video, folks are straining to breathe. In another, rescue personnel attempt to extract individuals from what seems to be a mass grave. Distressed cries may be heard.
Bodies were draped in blue blankets and lined up down the roadway. Others were transported into ambulances, dead. The public, as well as hundreds of emergency personnel dispatched from throughout the nation, performed CPR on individuals who were unconscious.
Relatives and friends of the missing have begun arriving at the area this morning, hoping for clues as to whether their loved ones were present.
However, the remains have been transported from the street to a gymnasium so that family members can identify them. With so many casualties, this is anticipated to take some time and is the police’ top priority right now.
SK President announced a period of national mourning and ordered the lowering of flags after a deadly stampede killed at least 155 people, including 19 foreigners, during #Halloween celebrations in #Seoul.#SouthKorea #CardiacArrest #Itaewon #이태원 pic.twitter.com/2576DEetQ5
— Chaudhary Parvez (@ChaudharyParvez) October 30, 2022