How the Halloween night horror unfolded on streets of Seoul
Halloween festivities turned into a tragedy in the South Korean capital of Seoul after an uncontrollable crowd triggered a stampede on Saturday night, leaving at least 151 dead and over 100 others injured. The incident took place at a famous market, and most of the deceased were in their 20s. The victims also reportedly included foreign nationals from Iran, Uzbekistan, China, and Norway.
Crowd surge leads to stampede, 270 reported missing
According to Reuters, the incident occurred in the Itaewon district after a crowd surge became uncontrollable, resulting in attendees getting crushed. Nearly 100,000 people attended the first major Halloween celebration since most COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in the Korean capital city, it said. Meanwhile, Korean Times reported that nearly 270 people were reported missing as a result of the incident.
What did officials say?
According to Korean National Fire Agency (NFA) officials, attendees were crushed to death after people in a large crowd began pushing each other forward in a narrow alley near the Hamilton Hotel, a popular party destination in Seoul. The stampede happened after a large number of people rushed to an Itaewon bar after hearing that an unidentified celebrity was visiting, AFP reported.
Viral social media videos show chaos
Hundreds of people were crushed and immobilized as emergency personnel and police attempted to free them in the narrow, sloped alley near the hotel, according to social media footage. Many people suffered cardiac arrest as a result of the stampede. Following the incident, videos and images showed emergency workers and pedestrians desperately performing CPR on several people lying in the streets.
Watch: Video of the uncontrollable crowd
Footage shows the moment when people were being crushed by the weight of other people in Itaweon, South Korea in connection to a Halloween party. #Itaewon #이태원 #이태원사고 #압사사고 #SouthKorea #Seoul #HalloweenEnds #Halloween pic.twitter.com/j9uJAtgZeA— Siraj Noorani (@sirajnoorani) October 29, 2022
Footage of the aftermath on streets
President Yoon Suk-yeol declares national mourning
Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a national mourning in response to the tragedy. After the incident, he convened emergency meetings and directed officials to provide immediate aid to the injured while also reviewing safety precautions. Notably, the Saturday stampede is the deadliest known crowd disaster in South Korean history, with all deaths attributed to the crush in the narrow alley.
World leaders express grief, offer help
Meanwhile, leaders across the globe expressed their condolences to Seoul, calling the incident "tragic." US President Joe Biden and his wife both conveyed their condolences. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted, "All our thoughts are with those currently responding and all South Koreans at this very distressing time." French President Emmanuel Macron has also expressed grief over the incident and offered his help.
Message from US President Biden
Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in Seoul. We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea and wish for a quick recovery to all those who were injured. The United States stands with the Republic of Korea during this tragic time.— President Biden (@POTUS) October 29, 2022