At least 153 people have died and more than 150 are injured, some of them seriously, after a stampede took place this Saturday night in the center of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. A celebration in the Itaewon district of Seoul turned into a tragedy.
At least 153 people have died and more than 150 are injured, some of them seriously, after a stampede occurred in downtown Seoul on Saturday night. People dressed up for Halloween parties fleeing in panic, desperate attempts to provide first aid on sidewalks, bodies lying under makeshift shrouds: a celebration in the Itaewon district of Seoul turned into a tragedy in a stampede whose cause has not been explainedin this popular and cosmopolitan district of the South Korean capital, near a former US military base and known for its bars and nightclubs.
tens of thousands of people, mostly young people in elaborate Halloween costumesarrived in the district on Saturday night for the first Halloween party since the lifting of most covid-19 restrictions.
The district is a labyrinth of steep and twisting alleys on both sides of the main street.
the crowd was exceptionally dense on Saturday night, Witnesses told Agence France Presse that they were able to collect testimonies. Jeon commented that even before the disaster he felt insecure. “There were so many people jostling each other, I got caught in the first crowd and couldn’t get out at first,” he recalled. “It felt like an accident was going to happen.”
Firefighters put 97 women and 54 men among the dead, and a witness told Yonhap News Agency that little people had a harder time in the crowd.
“A short person like me couldn’t even breathe,” said a woman who witnessed the events. She stated that she survived because she was at the edge of an alley.
The stampede occurred in a narrow alley near Itaewon’s Hamilton Hotel. A witness told on Twitter that the panic started when people “kept pressing” to enter an alley which was already congested. This resulted in “other people screaming and falling like dominoes,” said the user going by the handle “jkaesthet1x.” “I thought he would be crushed to death because people kept pushing without realizing there were people falling at the start of the stampede,” he added.
Faced with the huge number of victims, rescuers asked passers-by to help provide first aid to victims on the street.
The bodies of the people who were crushed or trampled to death were lying in a row, covered with makeshift blankets or shrouds.
Hundreds of ambulances lined up in front of Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital, where scores of victims were taken.
At the site, cordoned off by police, music continued to play from some of the bars.
Passers-by sat on the sidewalk checking their mobile phones. Some gave each other hugs of consolation while others, apparently unaware of the magnitude of the tragedy that had occurred at their side, continued to celebrate.
Police investigators searched the debris-strewn alley.