Singaporeans, who had just arrived in Seoul on Saturday, ended up amid a mass crushing of at least 153 people as the Halloween festivities turned tragic later that night.
Koh Ming En, 25, and two other Singaporeans had traveled to the Itaewon district of South Korea’s capital to enjoy a festival, but he soon became separated from his friends. , had to fend for themselves.
Recalling his harrowing experience, the videographer told The Straits Times on Sunday: “At some point people were being pushed in a ‘wave’. My friends and I were panicking and trying our best to survive in the crowd. ”
Searching for an escape route, the trio reach a ramp leading to an exit, but the surging crowd pushes Mr. Koh against a wall and loses sight of his friend.
Mr. Ko also said he was having trouble breathing as he was sandwiched between people.
He then saw a ledge about half a floor above the ground and climbed onto it hoping to enter the bar from the balcony, but was stopped by a bouncer.
“When I was standing on the ledge … there was a hand reaching down and asking me to pull it up. I tried, but I couldn’t do it because it was dangerous,” Ko said.
Grabbing something that looked like a wire, I advanced little by little along the rock ledge, and came to a relatively large area. But he was too high to jump, so he could not return to the ground.
Mr. Koh decided to slide down the sloping shophouse roof near the shelf and jumped on a garbage bag to escape to safety.
“I was the last one out. Both of my friends were uninjured. I had a few cuts, but they were nothing compared to those who were stunned or stepped on.” I can’t imagine what would have happened if we had stayed there, we could have died,” he said.
Another tourist, Canadian graphic designer Katie Bullock, 37, who is on a two-month vacation in South Korea, was lucky to escape unharmed.
Ms. Bullock, who was with a friend, was forced into a narrow alley near the Hamilton Hotel where the incident began. People were so close to each other that they couldn’t move in either direction, she said.
“I heard some isolated screams up ahead and saw people filming. I thought maybe there was a horrible performance, but I had no idea what was going on,” Block said of ST. told to
As the crowd grew, her shoes were ripped from her feet and she began screaming in pain as people started stepping on her feet.
“All I could do was shove myself against the wall resolutely…the club wouldn’t open the door despite my pounding pleas. We might actually die here, with the club’s employees watching us through the glass,” Block said.
Eventually the door opened and Brock and others managed to enter the underground club. was taken out of the club.
About the scene she said: Dozens of ambulances and corpses lined the street at the end of the alley. ”
She said passersby were helping first aid to the wounded and some were wearing blankets.
Brock and her friend, limping with their swollen legs, eventually took a taxi back to her apartment in Hongdae.
A Singaporean vacationing in South Korea told ST he was shocked by the tragedy.
One of them, who only wanted to be known as Farah, said she was in Hongdae with her 60-year-old mother and 18-month-old toddler. They had planned to head to Itaewon, but when the growing crowd began to feel unsafe, she decided to go ahead with it.
She took an Uber back to her hotel and was awakened around 10:30 PM by the sound of sirens that lasted until about 4:00 AM. She didn’t know what happened until she saw one of her in her group chat.
“For the time being, we will avoid Itaewon and monitor emergency alerts, and try to avoid crowds and be home by 8 p.m., if possible,” she said.
South Korea on Sunday declared a nationwide mourning period for the dead who caused the disaster.
The Halloween event was the first in three years since the country lifted Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing. Many of the partygoers wore masks and Halloween costumes.