By KIM TONG-HYUNG and HYUNG-JIN KIM (Related Press)
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A mass of largely younger individuals celebrating Halloween festivities in Seoul grew to become trapped and crushed as the group surged right into a slender alley, killing a minimum of 149 individuals and injuring 150 others in South Korea’s worst catastrophe in years.
Emergency employees and pedestrians desperately carried out CPR on individuals mendacity within the streets after the crush within the capital’s leisure district of Itaewon Saturday night time.
Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan hearth division, mentioned the loss of life toll might rise additional and that an unspecified quantity among the many injured have been in vital situation.
An estimated 100,000 individuals had gathered in Itaewon for the nation’s greatest out of doors Halloween festivities for the reason that pandemic started. The South Korean authorities eased COVID-19 restrictions in current months. Itaewon, close to the place the previous headquarters of U.S. navy forces in South Korea operated earlier than transferring out of the capital in 2018, is an expat-friendly district identified for its fashionable bars, golf equipment and eating places.
It was not instantly clear what led the group to surge into the slender downhill alley close to the Hamilton Resort, a significant celebration spot in Seoul. One survivor mentioned many individuals fell and toppled each other “like dominos” after they have been being pushed by others. The survivor, surnamed Kim, mentioned they have been trapped for about an hour and a half earlier than being rescued, as some individuals shouted “Assist me!” and others have been wanting breath, in line with the Seoul-based Hankyoreh newspaper.
One other survivor, named Lee Chang-kyu, mentioned he noticed about 5 to 6 males push others earlier than one or two started falling, in line with the newspaper.
In an interview with information channel YTN, Hwang Min-hyeok, a customer to Itaewon, mentioned it was surprising to see rows of our bodies close to the lodge. He mentioned emergency employees have been initially overwhelmed, leaving pedestrians struggling to manage CPR to the injured mendacity on the streets. Individuals wailed beside the our bodies of their pals, he mentioned.
One other survivor in his 20s mentioned he prevented being trampled by managing to get right into a bar whose door was open on the alley, Yonhap information company reported. A girl in her 20s surnamed Park informed Yonhap that she and others have been standing alongside the aspect of the alley whereas others caught in the course of the alley had no escape.
Choi, the hearth division chief, mentioned that our bodies have been being despatched to hospitals or a fitness center, the place bereaved relations might establish them. He mentioned a lot of the lifeless and injured are of their 20s.
“Horrific information from Seoul tonight,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted. “All our ideas are with these at the moment responding and all South Koreans at this very distressing time.”
Jake Sullivan, the U.S. nationwide safety adviser, tweeted that reviews of the catastrophe have been “heartbreaking” and mentioned Washington “stands prepared to offer the Republic of Korea with any assist it wants.”
The final South Korean catastrophe this lethal additionally hit younger individuals the toughest. In April 2014, 304 individuals, largely highschool college students, died in a ferry sinking. The sinking uncovered lax security guidelines and regulatory failures; it was partially blamed on extreme and poorly fixed cargo and a crew poorly educated for emergency conditions. Saturday’s deaths will possible draw public scrutiny of what authorities officers have completed to enhance public security requirements for the reason that ferry catastrophe.
It was additionally Asia’s second main crushing catastrophe in a month. On Oct. 1, police in Indonesia fired tear gasoline at a soccer match, inflicting a crush that killed 132 individuals as spectators tried to flee.
Greater than 1,700 response personnel from throughout the nation have been deployed to the streets to assist the wounded, together with about 520 firefighters, 1,100 law enforcement officials and 70 authorities employees. The Nationwide Hearth Company individually mentioned in an announcement that officers have been nonetheless attempting to find out the precise variety of emergency sufferers.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol issued an announcement calling for officers to make sure swift remedy for these injured and evaluate the protection of the festivity websites.
This was the deadliest crushing catastrophe in South Korean historical past. In 2005, 11 individuals have been killed and round 60 others have been injured at a pop live performance within the southern metropolis of Sangju.