South Korea Declares a National Day of Mourning After 153 People Are Killed in a Halloween Stampede

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Last Updated on October 30, 2022 by Bitfinsider

Sunday, President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea declared a period of national mourning after 153 people were killed in a Halloween crush in a Seoul nightlife district.

Yoon extended his sympathies to the victims, the majority of whom were teens and persons in their 20s, and wished a rapid recovery to the many injured in one of South Korea’s and the world’s biggest stampedes in decades.

He declared in a statement, “This is very awful.” Last night, a catastrophe and disaster that should not have occurred occurred in the heart of Seoul.

Saturday night, a large throng partying in the popular district of Itaewon spilled into an alley, according to emergency officials, who added that the death toll could grow.

Choi Sung-beom, chief of the Yongsan Fire Station, stated during a scene briefing that 82 people were injured, including 19 who were critically hurt. He stated that 22 foreigners were among the deceased.

Families and friends urgently sought news of missing loved ones in community centers that had been transformed into impromptu shelters for the missing.

At noon, the Interior Ministry reported that at least 90 percent of the victims had been recognized, with some foreign nationals and minors without identity cards causing delays.

After the incident, South Korean computer and mobile gaming companies including Kakao and NCSOFT dropped their Halloween promotions, and Everland canceled its Halloween-themed events. Numerous regional governments and organizations have canceled or diminished events and festivals.

It was the first Halloween celebration in Seoul in three years that was practically free of Covid-19 restrictions and social separation. Many of the partygoers wore Halloween masks and costumes.

There were warning indicators that the events were attracting dangerous crowds twenty-four hours in advance, and victims and their families questioned the seeming lack of crowd management.

In the early hours of Sunday, blood spots were mixed with costumes and personal possessions in the narrow roadway. Surviving individuals huddled behind emergency blankets amidst hordes of emergency personnel, police, and reporters.

Choi stated that several of those killed were in the vicinity of a nightclub. He stated that several of the fatalities were women in their twenties, while the foreigners killed were from China, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Norway.

As the evening progressed, the throng grew increasingly disorderly and furious, according to eyewitness accounts. Just prior to the stampede at 10:20 p.m. (1320 GMT), witnesses reported that police were at times unable to maintain crowd control.

Before the incident, Moon Ju-young, 21, stated that there were evident indications of problems in the alley. He told Reuters that it was ten times more packed than usual.

Social media footage depicted hundreds of people trapped and immobilized in a tight, steep lane as rescue personnel and police attempted to release them.

Choi, the fire chief for the district of Yongsan, attributed all the deaths to the crush in the alley.

Witnesses and fire officials reported that people continued to come into the alley after it was already jam-packed, at which point those at the top of the slope fell, causing those behind them to topple over others.

A mom reported that her daughter escaped despite being stuck for more than an hour in the crowd.

A makeshift mortuary was established in a nearby building. According to a Reuters witness, some four dozen bodies were transported on wheeled stretchers to a government facility for identification.

The Itaewon district is popular among young South Koreans and foreigners, with its dozens of pubs and restaurants crowded on Saturday for Halloween, despite a significant fall in commerce over the past three years.

Park Jung-hoon, 21, told Reuters from the scene, “You would see large crowds during Christmas and fireworks, but this was more than ten times bigger than that.”

International officials expressed their sympathies, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping, who underlined that Chinese nationals were among the dead and injured.

In April, curfews on pubs and restaurants and a limit of 10 persons for private parties were eased due to the decline of the Covid epidemic. In May, the outside mask requirement was eliminated.

President Yoon convened an emergency meeting with top advisers and ordered the formation of a task group to acquire resources for treating the injured and conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the cause of the accident.

The accident is one of the nation’s bloodiest since a boat sank in 2014, killing 304 people, most of them were high school students.

The sinking of the Sewol and criticism of the government response sent shockwaves throughout South Korea, triggering considerable soul-searching regarding the country’s safety procedures, which are likely to be renewed following Saturday’s crush.

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