2 People among the many 153 killed in Halloween crowd surge in South Korea


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Involved kin raced to hospitals in the hunt for their family members Sunday as South Korea mourned the deaths of greater than 150 folks, largely of their 20s and 30s, who received trapped and crushed after an enormous Halloween celebration crowd surged right into a slim alley in a nightlife district in Seoul.

Witnesses mentioned the gang surge Saturday night time within the Itaewon space induced “a hell-like” chaos as folks fell on one another “like dominoes.” Some folks have been bleeding from their noses and mouths whereas being given CPR, witnesses mentioned, whereas others clad in Halloween costumes continued to sing and dance close by, probably with out figuring out the severity of the scenario.

“I nonetheless can’t consider what has occurred. It was like a hell,” mentioned Kim Mi Sung, an official at a nonprofit group that promotes tourism in Itaewon.

Kim mentioned she carried out CPR on 10 individuals who have been unconscious and 9 of them have been declared useless on the spot. Kim mentioned the ten have been largely ladies sporting witch outfits and different Halloween costumes.

The gang surge is the nation’s worst catastrophe in years. As of Sunday night, officers put the dying toll at 153 and the variety of injured folks at 133. The Ministry of the Inside and Security mentioned the dying depend may additional rise as 37 of the injured folks have been in critical circumstances.

Ninety-seven of the useless have been ladies and 56 have been males. Greater than 80% of the useless are of their 20s and 30s, however no less than 4 have been youngsters.

A minimum of 20 of the useless are foreigners from China, Russia, Iran and elsewhere. Two People are among the many useless, the U.S. embassy in South Korea confirmed Sunday.

An estimated 100,000 folks had gathered in Itaewon for the nation’s greatest outside Halloween festivities because the pandemic started. The South Korean authorities had eased COVID-19 restrictions in latest months.

Witnesses mentioned the streets have been so densely clogged with folks and slow-moving automobiles that it was virtually not possible for emergency staff and ambulances to achieve the alley close to Hamilton Lodge swiftly.

Authorities mentioned hundreds of individuals have known as or visited a close-by metropolis workplace, reporting lacking kin and asking officers to substantiate whether or not they have been amongst these injured or useless after the crush.

The our bodies of the useless have been being stored at 42 hospitals in Seoul and close by Gyeonggi province, based on Seoul Metropolis, which mentioned it should instruct crematories to burn extra our bodies per day as a part of plans to assist funeral proceedings.

Round 100 companies within the Hamilton Lodge space have agreed to close down their retailers via Monday to cut back the variety of partygoers who would come to the streets via Halloween day.

Whereas Halloween isn’t a conventional vacation in South Korea — the place kids not often go trick-or-treating — it’s nonetheless a serious attraction for younger adults, and costume events at bars and golf equipment have grow to be massively standard in recent times.

Itaewon, close to the place the previous headquarters of U.S. navy forces in South Korea operated for many years earlier than shifting out of the capital in 2018, is an expat-friendly district recognized for its fashionable bars, golf equipment and eating places. It’s the town’s marquee Halloween vacation spot.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol declared a one-week nationwide mourning interval on Sunday and ordered flags at authorities buildings and public places of work to fly at half-staff. Throughout a televised speech, Yoon mentioned supporting the households of the victims, together with their funeral preparations, and the remedy of the injured can be a prime precedence for his authorities.

He additionally known as for officers to completely examine the reason for the accident and overview the protection of different massive cultural and leisure occasions to make sure they proceed safely.

“That is actually devastating. The tragedy and catastrophe that needn’t have occurred happened within the coronary heart of Seoul amid Halloween (celebrations),” Yoon mentioned through the speech. “I really feel heavy hearted and can’t include my unhappiness as a president chargeable for the folks’s lives and security.”

After the speech, Yoon visited the Itaewon alley the place the catastrophe occurred. Native TV footage confirmed Yoon inspecting the alley stuffed with trash and being briefed by emergency officers.

It was not instantly clear what led the gang to surge into the slim, downhill alley. One survivor mentioned many individuals fell and toppled each other “like dominoes” after they have been 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 folks shouted “Assist me!” and others have been wanting breath, based on the Seoul-based Hankyoreh newspaper.

One other survivor, Lee Chang-kyu, mentioned he noticed about 5 or 6 males push others earlier than one or two started falling, based on the newspaper.

In an interview with information channel YTN, Hwang Min-hyeok, a customer to Itaewon, mentioned it was stunning to see rows of our bodies close to the resort. He mentioned emergency staff have been initially overwhelmed, leaving pedestrians struggling to manage CPR to the injured mendacity on the streets. Folks wailed beside the our bodies of their mates, he mentioned.

A person in his 20s mentioned he prevented being trampled by managing to get right into a bar whose door was open within the alley, Yonhap information company reported. A girl in her 20s surnamed Park advised Yonhap that she and others have been standing alongside the facet of the alley whereas others caught in the course of the alley had no escape.

Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fireplace division, mentioned that our bodies have been being despatched to hospitals or a health club, the place bereaved relations may establish them.

World leaders provided condolences, together with Pope Francis.

“We pray the Risen Lord additionally for these — particularly younger folks — who died final night time in Seoul, because of the tragic penalties of a sudden crush,” Francis mentioned after his Sunday’s Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Sq., inviting the gang to wish for the victims.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted that “All our ideas are with these presently 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 supply the Republic of Korea with any assist it wants.”

Among the many 20 overseas useless are 4 from China; three from Russia; two from Iran; and one every from Vietnam, Austria, Norway, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and america. The Inside Ministry mentioned it wasn’t knowledgeable of the nationalities of the 4 different foreigners.

The Japanese International Ministry mentioned two of its nationals have been among the many useless, whereas the French International Ministry mentioned one French nationwide additionally died through the Itaewon tragedy.

The final South Korean catastrophe this lethal additionally hit younger folks the toughest. In April 2014, 304 folks, 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 skilled for emergency conditions.

Saturday’s deaths will doubtless draw public scrutiny of what authorities officers have achieved to enhance public security requirements because the ferry catastrophe.

This was the deadliest crushing catastrophe in South Korean historical past. In 2005, 11 folks have been killed and round 60 others have been injured at a pop live performance within the southern metropolis of Sangju.

In 1960, 31 folks died after being crushed on the steps of a practice station as massive crowds rushed to board a practice through the Lunar New Yr holidays.

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 folks 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 cops and 70 authorities staff. The Nationwide Fireplace Company individually mentioned in an announcement that officers have been nonetheless attempting to find out the precise variety of emergency sufferers.

Supply hyperlink