South Korea Mourns and Demands Answers After 153 People Were Killed in a Halloween Stampede

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Last Updated on October 31, 2022 by Bitfinsider

On Sunday, children and a nation sought answers after at least 153 people were crushed to death when a mob surged in an alley during Halloween festivities in South Korea.

After the Saturday night accident, President Yoon Suk-yeol declared a period of national mourning and named the popular Itaewon district of Seoul a disaster zone.

As he collected his daughter’s remains from a morgue in the nation’s capital, a distraught father remarked, “This news hit me like a bolt from the blue.”

A large throng partying in Itaewon spilled into an alley, killing at least 153 individuals, the majority of whom were in their 20s, according to emergency officials, who added that the death toll could grow.

The revelers, some of whom were still in their teens and many of whom were wearing Halloween costumes, were eager to enjoy the pubs, nightclubs, and restaurants where the merriment usually spills out onto the tiny and frequently steep side streets.

Instead, the street was crowded with people yelling for assistance, while emergency personnel feverishly attempted to extricate trapped bodies and administer CPR to those strewn across the debris-strewn ground.

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

Families and friends desperately awaited news of lost loved ones in community halls transformed into shelters for the missing.

The Interior Ministry stated that at least 90 percent of the victims had been recognized by noon, with delays impacting some foreign nationals and adolescents who lacked identification cards.

Visitors began erecting makeshift memorials near the location, laying flowers and notes.

In one of South Korea’s biggest disasters and one of the world’s worst stampedes in decades, President Yoon extended his sympathies to the victims and wished a swift recovery to the many injured.

“This is very unfortunate,” he said in a statement, promising to investigate the disaster’s source. Last night, a catastrophe and disaster that should not have occurred occurred in the heart of Seoul.

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 more 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 the nation’s deadliest since a 2014 ferry sinking in which 304 people, primarily high school students, perished.

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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