Seoul, South Korea — Involved family members raced to hospitals in quest of their family members Sunday as South Korea mourned the, largely of their teenagers and 20s, who received trapped and crushed after an enormous Halloween get together crowd surged right into a slim alley in a nightlife district in Seoul.
Witnesses mentioned the group surge within the Itaewon space on Saturday evening precipitated “a hell-like” chaos as individuals fell on one another “like dominos.” Some individuals 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, presumably with out figuring out the severity of the state of affairs.
“I nonetheless cannot consider what has occurred. It was like a hell,” mentioned Kim Mi Sung, an official at a non-profit 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 carrying witch outfits and different Halloween costumes.
The group surge is the nation’s worst catastrophe in years. As of Sunday night, officers put the demise toll at 153 and the variety of injured individuals at 133. The Ministry of the Inside and Security mentioned the demise rely may additional rise as 37 of the injured individuals have been in severe 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 not less than 4 have been youngsters.
Not less than 20 of the useless are foreigners from China, Russia, Iran and elsewhere. Two People have been among the many useless, the U.S. State Division mentioned Sunday.
An estimated 100,000 individuals had gathered in Itaewon for the nation’s largest outside Halloween festivities for the reason that pandemic started. The South Korean authorities eased COVID-19 restrictions in current months.
Whereas Halloween is not a conventional vacation in South Korea, the place youngsters hardly ever go trick-or-treating, it is nonetheless a significant attraction for younger adults, and costume events at bars and golf equipment have grow to be vastly in style in recent times.
Itaewon, close to the place the previous headquarters of U.S. army forces in South Korea operated earlier than shifting out of the capital in 2018, is an expat-friendly district recognized for its fashionable bars, golf equipment and eating places and it is 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 referred to as for officers to totally examine the reason for the accident and evaluation the security 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 befell within the coronary heart of Seoul amid Halloween (celebrations),” Yoon mentioned in the course of the speech. “I really feel heavy hearted and can’t include my disappointment as a president chargeable for the individuals’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 group to surge into the slim downhill alley close to the Hamilton Resort, a significant get together spot in Seoul. One survivor mentioned many individuals fell and toppled each other “like dominos” 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 individuals shouted “Assist me!” and others have been wanting breath, in keeping with the Seoul-based Hankyoreh newspaper.
One other survivor, Lee Chang-kyu, mentioned he noticed about 5 – 6 males push others earlier than one or two started falling, in keeping 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 staff 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 buddies, he mentioned.
One other survivor in his 20s mentioned he averted 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 midst of the alley had no escape.
Choi, the fireplace division chief, mentioned that our bodies have been being despatched to hospitals or a gymnasium, the place bereaved members of the family may determine them. He mentioned many of the useless 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 experiences 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 mounted cargo and a crew poorly educated for emergency conditions. Saturday’s deaths will seemingly draw public scrutiny of what authorities officers have carried out 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 fuel 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 cops and 70 authorities staff. The Nationwide Hearth Company individually mentioned in an announcement that officers have been nonetheless making an attempt to find out the precise variety of emergency sufferers.
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.
In 1960, 31 individuals died after being crushed on the steps of a prepare station as massive crowds rushed to board a prepare in the course of the Lunar New 12 months holidays.