At Least 153 Dead After Crowd Surge In Seoul During Halloween Festivities

At Least 153 Dead After Crowd Surge In Seoul During Halloween Festivities

One of the nation’s worst tragedies, a crowd surge during Halloween celebrations in a renowned nightlife zone on Saturday night, resulted in at least 153 fatalities and 103 injuries, according to officials, raising concerns about public safety standards.

According to Choi Seong-beam, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire station, most victims were people in their late teens and early twenties. According to a Sunday morning update from the fire department, one of the victims was an American citizen. It did not mention the identities or ages of any of the victims.

Another 24 victims, who were foreigners, were revealed in the update. It added that the other casualties were from France, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Norway, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Austria, and Kazakhstan, in addition to the four victims from China and four from Iran.

According to the fire department’s update, 79 injured have less severe wounds, while 23 are in critical condition. According to officials, the crowd had assembled in the small alley in Seoul’s Itaewon neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween. On Saturday night, local time was around 10:15, when the incident was first reported.

President Yoon Suk-yeol announced a period of national mourning in a televised speech on Sunday morning, according to a text briefing from his office. “Last night, in the centre of Seoul celebrating Halloween, a catastrophe and a disaster that should never happen did happen,” Yoon added.

I have a sad heart, and the sorrow is too much to bear as the president who is responsible for the lives and safety of our citizens, he concluded. Yoon arrived in Itaewon after the address and took a quick tour of the area where the rush took place. He didn’t address the media before leaving.

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Despite being initially labelled as a stampede, the video shows a crowd surgeā€”a wave of people pushing through a crowded area. According to a fire station official from Itaewon, twenty-one people were verified to have experienced cardiac arrest during the tide. Choi said bodies were transported to hospitals or a gym so grieving relatives could identify them.

Itaewon’s daybreak came with a sense of calm over the tragic scene. Still wearing their costumes, stragglers ventured across emergency tape-lined streets. While police closed the exits to the alley where the disaster occurred, emergency vehicles stood stationary with their sirens blinking.

While attempting to digest what had happened the previous night, some Halloween revellers sat startled on the nearby pavement. A nearby club was where Lee Da-em, 25, claimed to have been when she learned about the disaster outside.

When I arrived early, I could immediately tell that Itaewon was getting too busy, Lee remarked. “Then, after seeing the news, my mother began to phone and text. She was terrified since she knew I was coming here.

She asked, “How could this happen? Survivor: “People fell like dominoes.”

The nation’s largest public Halloween celebrations since the pandemic started took place in Itaewon, a neighbourhood known for trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants and close to a former U.S. military base. In recent months, the Covid-19 limits were loosened by the South Korean government.

One survivor claimed that numerous individuals collapsed and tumbled to one another “like dominoes” while being shoved by other individuals in a slight downhill alley next to the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon.

The survivor, Kim, claimed that some individuals cried, “Help me!” while others were gasping for air. According to the Seoul-based Hankyoreh newspaper, Kim declared that other individuals trampled him for around 1 1/2 hours before being rescued.

According to the newspaper, Lee Chang-kyu, another survivor, claimed to have witnessed five to six guys pushing one another before one or two of them started to drop one by one at the beginning of the wave. A video from earlier in the evening shared on social media shows people in the same vicinity as the supposed surge slowly strolling down the street shoulder to shoulder.

Other crowd footage shows people screaming and yelling and first responders carrying wounded people through a littered street that had been cleared of people. Another video shows someone attempting to scale a wall to flee the crowd.

Since 304 people, primarily high school students, perished in a ferry sinking in April 2014, it was the country’s worst disaster. The descent, largely attributed to an abundance of improperly tied goods and a crew that had not received adequate emergency training, exposed low safety regulations and regulatory failings.

Public criticism of government leaders’ actions to raise public safety standards since the sinking will probably result from the catastrophe. Yoon announced in his speech on Sunday morning that the regional festival preparations will be urgently reviewed to ensure their safety.

Most importantly, he stated, “it is vital to verify the reason for the tragedy and prevent such accidents.” “We’ll take on the cause head-on and make sure that accidents like this never happen again.”

There were bodies everywhere.

Around 520 firefighters, 1,100 police officers, and 70 government employees were among the 1,700 people who were quickly dispatched to the scene from around the nation. According to a statement from the National Fire Agency, all of Seoul’s emergency personnel have been activated.

TV footage and pictures displayed a dense police presence, a line-up of ambulances, and emergency personnel escorting the injured on stretchers. People in the streets were spotted receiving CPR from 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.

The event was reported on social media while it was happening, according to resident Reagan Sangwa, 43, who went to see if he could help. Sangwa declared, “It was a catastrophe, a calamity.” There were bodies everywhere. Two patients I assisted with CPR were taken to the hospital after I finished.

Hwang Min-hook, a tourist to Itaewon, expressed amazement at seeing rows of victims laid out in the alleyway close to Hamilton Hotel in an interview with news outlet YTN. He claimed that emergency personnel were overburdened at first, leaving people scrambling to do CPR on the injured lying on the streets. People wept next to the bodies, he claimed.

Another survivor in his 20s claimed that entering a bar with an open door in the alley helped him avoid being crushed. 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.

Numerous individuals were receiving CPR on Itaewon streets, according to the police, which limited traffic in the area to hasten the delivery of the injured to hospitals throughout the city. Emergency text messages were sent out by the Seoul Metropolitan Government requesting that locals hurry back home.

According to Kim Eun-Hye, senior secretary for public relations, President Yoon directed Prime Minister Han Duk-soo to oversee the accident management headquarters and expedite the process of identifying the victims, particularly for the benefit of the families waiting for their loved ones.

Additionally, he gave the Health Ministry instructions to quickly send out disaster medical support teams and reserve beds in a neighbouring hospital so that the injured could be treated. More than 2,000 people, according to Seoul’s city government, have called a city office in the nearby neighbourhood of Hannam-dong to report that their relatives are missing and to ask officials if they are among the injured or dead.

Response on a global scale International leaders from countries like the United States, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany expressed their sympathies, supported South Korea, and wished the survivors a speedy recovery.

President Joe Biden issued a statement on Saturday expressing his and Jill’s sincere sympathies to the families of the Seoul victims. We express our condolences to the people of the Republic of Korea and wish everyone who was hurt a speedy recovery. Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser at the White House, tweeted that the United States is prepared to assist the nation.

Last night, the awful loss of life in Itaewon left U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea Philip Goldberg “devastated,” he said. In a statement, Goldberg said, “Please know that the sympathies of our team at the U.S. Embassy Seoul are with the Korean people, particularly the families of those who were killed, as well as the many injured in this horrific occurrence.”

After the incident, Rishi Sunak, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, tweeted his support for Seoul. The newly elected prime minister wrote, “Horrific news from Seoul tonight.” At this sorrowful time, “all our thoughts are with those responding and all South Koreans.”