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Halloween stampede in Seoul leaves at least 149 dead

InternationalHalloween stampede in Seoul leaves at least 149 dead

Photo: Rescue team members wait with stretchers to remove bodies from the scene where dozens of people were injured in a stampede during a Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, October 29, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji

by Soo-Hyang Choi, Daewoung Kim and Hongji Kim

SEOUL, Oct 30 (Reuters) – At least 149 people, mostly teenagers and young adults in their 20s, were killed in a crush when a huge crowd celebrating Halloween surged into an alley in a nightlife area of the South Korean capital Seoul on Saturday night, emergency officials said.

A further 65 people were injured in the melee in Seoul’s Itaewon district, Choi Sung-beom, head of the Yongsan Fire Station, said in a briefing at the scene.

Nineteen of the injured were in serious condition and receiving emergency treatment, the officials said, adding the death toll could rise.

It was the first Halloween event in Seoul in three years after the country lifted COVID restrictions and social distancing. Many of the partygoers were wearing masks and Halloween costumes.

Some witnesses described the crowd becoming increasingly unruly and agitated as the evening deepened. The incident took place at about 10:20 p.m. (1320 GMT).

“A number of people fell during a Halloween festival, and we have a large number of casualties,” Choi said. Many of those killed were near a nightclub.

Many of the victims were women in their twenties, Choi said.

Witnesses described chaotic scenes moments before the stampede, with the police on hand in anticipation of the Halloween event at times having trouble maintaining control of the crowds.

Moon Ju-young, 21, said there were clear signs of trouble in the alleys before the incident.

“A number of people fell during a Halloween festival, and we have a large number of casualties,” Choi said. Many of those killed were near a nightclub.

Many of the victims were women in their twenties, Choi said.

Witnesses described chaotic scenes moments before the stampede, with the police on hand in anticipation of the Halloween event at times having trouble maintaining control of the crowds.

Moon Ju-young, 21, said there were clear signs of trouble in the alleys before the incident.

“It was at least more than 10 times crowded than usual,” he said.

Social media footage showed hundreds of people packed in the narrow, sloped alley crushed and immobile as emergency officials and police tried to pull them free.

Choi, the Yongsan district fire chief, said all the deaths were likely from the crush in the single narrow alley.

Other footage showed chaotic scenes of fire officials and citizens treating dozens of people who appeared to be unconscious.

Fire officials and witnesses said people continued to pour into the narrow alley that was already packed wall-to-wall, when those at the top of the sloped street fell, sending people below them toppling over others.

An unnamed woman who said she was the mother of a survivor said her daughter and others were trapped for more than an hour before being pulled from the crush of people in the alley.

Full article can be found at: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/about-50-people-reported-hurt-stampede-south-korea-yonhap-2022-10-29/

First published by Reuters

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