South Korean authorities are investigating The stampede killed at least 154 people Party members in Seoul are trying to make sense of one of its worst disasters as the beleaguered country.
The country has begun a week of mourning as officials try to understand how Catastrophic attraction held
Among the dead are at least 26 foreigners, including two US citizens. A dozen embassies around the world have confirmed victims from their countries.
It was not clear what caused Saturday’s uproar, but witnesses said partygoers packed tightly into narrow streets in the capital’s nightlife district of Itaewon as people enjoyed the first Halloween weekend since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
Almost all the victims – at least 150 – have been identified; Police told CNN. The number includes 56 men and 97 women, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Interior and Defense.
South Korea’s Education Ministry said Monday that six schoolchildren, including a middle school student, were among the dead. All three teachers died.
As of 5 p.m. local time Sunday (4 a.m. ET), the number of injured had risen to 133, 37 of them critically, the ministry said.
“There were rows and rows of people covered with tarps on the street,” said Emily Farmer, a 27-year-old English teacher in Seoul. Passes through Itaewontold CNN.
Farmer and her friends decided to enter a bar “overwhelmed” by the crowd on the street. After a while, rumors began to spread that someone had died, and patrons were not allowed to leave. The farmer said he received an emergency message from the government warning of a “dangerous situation in the area” and was later allowed to leave the bar when he realized the extent of the tragedy.
“It’s horrible,” she said. “Not everyone died instantly.” Groups of people were crying, he added. Several victims received CPR and were stripped of their clothing, allowing medics at the scene to revive them. “They were still pulling people (out) because it was so crowded,” he added.
Another eyewitness, Sung Sehyun, told CNN that the street scene was like a “crowded tunnel” on Saturday evening, with Halloween partygoers packed so tightly that it was difficult to move around.
Chua Cho added that people started pushing and shoving and there was a lot of shouting. She eventually took a detour and fled to safety, but saw people climbing buildings to survive. He added that the clothes people were wearing added to the confusion; “There was a police officer yelling, but we couldn’t really tell (if it was) a real police officer because so many people were wearing costumes.”
Witnesses told CNN that crowd control was minimal before the crowd turned deadly.
Videos and photos posted on social media show people standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the narrow street.
Crowds are not unusual for Seoul residents on crowded subways and streets in a city of nearly 10 million people.
After the first emergency calls came in at 10:24 p.m., officers rushed to the scene — but the sheer number of people made it difficult to reach those who needed help. A video posted on social media shows other party members putting pressure on people lying on the ground as they wait for medical help.
Several countries, including the US, China, Iran, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan, Australia, Norway and France, have confirmed their nationals are among the victims.
A University of Kentucky nursing student was among the dead, University President Eli Capilodo said in a statement. Anne Kieske, a junior from Northern Kentucky, was studying abroad in Seoul this semester, Capiludo said.
Three South Korean military personnel were among the dead, a Korean Defense Ministry official told CNN.
The South Korean government has set a period of national mourning until the end of November 5, Prime Minister Han Tak-soo told a news conference.
During the mourning period, all public institutions and diplomatic offices will fly flags at half-staff and all non-urgent events will be postponed, Hahn said.
Civil servants and employees of public institutions wear ribbons to express their condolences during the mourning period, Han said.