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Halloween Festival Crowd Surge Leaves 149 Dead in South Korea

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Halloween Festival Crowd Surge Leaves 149 Dead in South Korea

As many as 149 people were killed in a crush on Saturday night as a large crowd celebrating Halloween pushed into an alley in the South Korean capital Seoul’s nightlife district.

According to Choi Sung-beom, commander of the Yongsan Fire Station, at least 149 people were dead and 65 were hurt at the Halloween festival in Seoul’s Itaewon area.

Officials added that nineteen of the injured were in critical condition, undergoing emergency treatment, and the death toll could climb.

It was Seoul’s first Halloween event in three years, following the country’s lifting COVID restrictions and social estrangement. Many of the attendees were dressed up in masks and Halloween costumes.

As the evening progressed, some witnesses described the crowd getting increasingly violent and aggressive. The incident occurred around 10:20 p.m.

“Many people fell during a Halloween festival, and we have a significant number of casualties,” Choi explained. Many of those killed were in the vicinity of a nightclub.

According to Choi Seong-beom, a senior official at Seoul’s fire department, the majority of those killed were adolescents or in their twenties, with two foreigners among the deceased and 15 other foreigners injured, without naming their nationalities.

Witnesses recounted hectic circumstances seconds before the stampede, with police on hand in anticipation of the Halloween celebration struggling to keep people under control.

Moon Ju-young, 21, stated that there were obvious unrest signals in the lanes before the occurrence. “It was at least ten times busier than usual,” he remarked.

Hundreds of people were crushed and motionless in the tight, steep lane as emergency personnel and police attempted to free them.

According to Choi, the Yongsan district fire commander, all deaths were most likely caused by the crush in the single tiny alley.


Videos of the Halloween disaster showed hundreds of people who looked unconscious being treated by fire authorities and residents.

People flooded into the tight alley sending people below them crashing over others, according to fire authorities and witnesses.

An unidentified woman who claimed to be the survivor’s mother said her daughter and others were stuck in the alley for more than an hour before being rescued.

According to a Reuters witness, a makeshift mortuary had been put up in a building near the scene. According to the witness, some four dozen bodies were later brought out on stretchers and moved to a government holding facility to be identified.

Seoul’s Itaewon district is popular with young South Koreans and expats, with dozens of clubs and restaurants crowded on Saturday for Halloween after businesses significantly decreased during the pandemic’s three years.

“You’d see enormous crowds during Christmas and fireworks… but this was several tens of times bigger,” Park Jung-hoon, 21, said from the scene.

Two foreigners were killed, and others were taken to neighbouring hospitals.

Before dawn on Sunday, a sombre crowd was forming outside the Wonhyoro Multipurpose Indoor Gymnasium, a boxy, silvery building near the Han River in Seoul that had also become a morgue in the early morning hours.

Many families flocked to the gym to see if their loved ones were among the 45 bodies transported there as the toll of dead and injured changed swiftly late Saturday, and in the absence of comprehensive information about the victims of the Halloween tragedy.

Parents and siblings clustered a line of ambulances had formed outside to transport bodies as they were recognized, although there was little activity initially.

One cop mumbled to another that the authorities were having difficulty confirming identification.

A mother draped in a blanket paced back and forth, occasionally approaching police personnel for further information. Overwhelmed by fear and despair, others found the wait unbearable: one woman in a black sweater sobbed.

Then bodies began to be removed. Family members and green-vested police officers gathered shoulder to shoulder against a nearby railing, ostensibly to prevent photojournalists from photographing the dead.

But for the most part, the wait continued: for any news or clarity about how their lives had changed and who had died.

Authorities stated they were looking into the incident’s actual cause.

South Korea’ President Yoon Suk-yeol presided held an emergency meeting with senior advisers and directed the formation of a task group to gather resources to treat the injured and to begin an extensive inquiry into the disaster’s cause.

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