A mass of tens of thousands of young people who gathered to celebrate Halloween in Seoul were trapped and crushed as crowds rolled into narrow alleys, killing at least 151 and injuring 82, the worst in years in South Korea. disaster.

Most of the casualties were in their teens and 20s, said Choi Sung-bum, chief of the Seoul Yongsan Fire Department. He said the dead included 19 foreign nationals, whose nationalities were not immediately disclosed. may increase.

An estimated 100,000 people have flocked to Itaewon for the country’s largest outdoor Halloween festival since the pandemic began and strict rules on gatherings came into force. Relaxed restrictions. This was the first big chance for many young people to go out and party.

Although Halloween is not a traditional holiday in South Korea and children rarely go trick-or-treating, it is still a major attraction for young people, and costume parties in bars and clubs have become very popular in recent years. It is rising.

Itaewon is a foreigner-friendly district known for its trendy bars, clubs and restaurants, located near where the former headquarters of the US military in South Korea operated before it was moved out of the capital in 2018. City marquee Halloween destination.

Eyewitnesses said the streets of Itaewon were so dense with people and slow-moving vehicles that it was virtually impossible for paramedics and ambulances to reach the alleys in time to treat the wounded. .

As of noon on Saturday, more than 1,000 people called the city hall in nearby Hannam-dong to report they had lost contact with relatives and injured after clashes in Itaewon, the Seoul city government said. He said he had asked the authorities to confirm whether he was among those who died or died.

Officials initially lowered the tally after saying 150 people had been injured as of Sunday morning.

A Fire Department official did not immediately explain why the tally was reduced, but paramedics should have had a more accurate idea of ​​the casualties as the rescue operation progressed, and the number of wounded could have increased. Some said they would have died.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday declared a nationwide period of mourning, ordering flags on government buildings and offices to be flown at half mast. In a televised address, Yoon said the government’s top priority would be to support the families of the victims, including preparing funerals and treating the wounded.

He also urged authorities to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and review the safety of other large-scale cultural and entertainment events, including local festivals, to ensure they proceed safely. I asked

“This is truly devastating. A tragedy and disaster that didn’t need to happen happened in the center of Seoul during Halloween (celebration),” Yoon said in a speech. As president, my heart is heavy and I cannot contain my sadness.”

After the speech, Yoon visited the Itaewon alley where the accident happened. Local television footage showed Yun inspecting an alley filled with rubbish and being briefed by emergency authorities.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the crowds flooded the narrow downhill alleys near the Hamilton Hotel, Seoul’s main party spot. Kim, who survived, said she was trapped for about an hour and a half before being rescued because someone yelled, “Help!” Others were out of breath, according to the Seoul-based Hankyoreh newspaper.

Another survivor, Lee Chang-kyu, said he saw about five to six men pushing others before one or two began to fall.

In an interview with the news channel YTN, Hwang Min-hyuk, who visited Itaewon, said he was shocked to see corpses lined up near his hotel. said they struggled to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation to injured people lying in the street. He said people cried by his friend’s dead body.

According to Yonhap, another survivor in her 20s said she managed to enter a bar in an alley where the door was open and escaped being trampled. Others stood on the side of the alley, and others in the middle of the alley said they could not escape.

Fire chief Choi said the bodies will be sent to hospitals and gymnasiums so families can identify them. He said most of the casualties were in their 20s.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted, “Tonight we received some horrifying news from Seoul.” I have.”

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan tweeted that reports of the disaster were “heartbreaking” and said Washington was “ready to provide any assistance South Korea needs” .

The last tragedy in South Korea also hit young people the hardest. In the April 2014 ferry sinking accident, 304 of his people, mostly high school students, died. The sinking exposed lax safety rules and regulatory failures. Excessive and poorly secured cargo and poorly trained crews for emergencies were partially blamed. Saturday’s death is likely to draw public attention to what government officials have been doing to improve public safety standards since the ferry accident.

It was also Asia’s second major devastating disaster in a month. On October 1, Indonesian police fired tear gas at a football match, causing a crash that killed 132 people as spectators tried to flee.

More than 1,700 responders from across the country, including approximately 520 firefighters, 1,100 police officers and 70 government workers, were deployed to the streets to help the injured. In a separate statement, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said officials were still trying to determine the exact number of emergency patients.

South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol issued a statement urging authorities to ensure prompt medical treatment of the injured and the safety of the festival venue.

This was the worst devastating disaster in Korean history. In 2005, he killed 11 people and injured about 60 others at a pop concert in the south of Sanju city.

In 1960, during the Lunar New Year holidays, 31 people were killed when a large number of people tried to board a train and were crushed on the steps of the station.

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