On Saturday night, a large crowd celebrating in the popular Itaewon district surged into a narrow alleyway, according to emergency officials, who added that the number of deaths could rise.
South Korea’s president has declared a national mourning period following a stampede during Halloween festivities, as the death toll has risen to 153.
President Yoon Suk-yeol issued a statement on Sunday expressing condolences to the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery before visiting the scene of the crowd crush.
He described the situation as “truly tragic.” “Last night, a tragedy and disaster that should not have occurred occurred in the heart of Seoul.”
South Korean media initially reported that 151 people were killed and at least 82 were injured in a crowd crush in a crowded nightlife area in Seoul on Saturday night.
However, there are concerns that the number could rise further, as 19 of the 82 people being treated for injuries are in critical condition, and 153 have been declared dead.
Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire department, said the number of deaths could rise and that an unspecified number of the injured were in critical condition – with at least 50 people being treated for cardiac arrest.
The victims were crushed by a large crowd pushing forward on a narrow street during Halloween celebrations near the Hamilton Hotel in the Itaewon area.
Most of the bodies have been sent to hospitals, while the rest are being taken to a nearby gym so that they can be identified, he added.
A fire official said most of the dead are in their teens and 20s, and that 19 of the injured are in serious condition, according to Reuters news agency.
Footage on social media showed many victims lying on the ground while emergency personnel and bystanders performed CPR in an attempt to resuscitate them.
Following the stampede, all available emergency services personnel in Seoul were deployed to the streets to treat the injured, with the National Fire Agency reporting that over 1,700 responders attended the scene.
It’s unclear what prompted the crowd surge, but according to some local media reports, a large number of people rushed to the area after hearing an unidentified celebrity was there.
Seoul’s mayor Oh Se-hoon was visiting Europe but decided to return home following the news.
President Yoon chaired an emergency meeting following the stampede.
He said in a statement that officials should ensure swift treatment for those injured and that the safety of festivity sites should be reviewed.
According to local media, approximately 100,000 people attended the Itaewon Halloween festivities, which were the largest in years following the recent relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.Several world leaders have expressed their condolences to South Korea, including US President Joe Biden, who said, “Jill and I send our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in Seoul.” We express our condolences to the people of the Republic of Korea and wish all those injured a speedy recovery.
“Our two countries’ alliance has never been more vibrant or vital, and the bonds between our people are stronger than ever. During this tragic time, the United States stands with the Republic of Korea.”
The news was described as “horrific” by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who added, “All our thoughts are with those currently responding and all South Koreans at this very distressing time.”
While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that he was “thinking of everyone affected by this tragedy and wishing a speedy and complete recovery to those who were injured,”