Seoul Halloween Stampede: The Halloween festivities in Seoul, South Korea took a grim and tragic turn on Saturday night when over 150 people were crushed to death as a crowd surged through a narrow alley in a popular nightlife district in the city. The dead are believed to be mostly teenagers and young adults. The ghastly incident follows full-blown Halloween celebrations in the country as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted after two years of muted pandemic gatherings.
Authorities are still investigating what caused the incident, but Choi Seong-bum, chief of the Yongsan-gu Fire Department, said it was a “presumed stampede”. Videos showed tightly packed streets with almost no room for people to move around.
Heartbreaking visuals go viral
On social media, videos and photos shared from the streets in Seoul showed medical experts and people performing CPR on those who were fighting for their lives. Seong-bum that the death toll could rise further and that an unspecified number of people among the injured were in critical condition. Social media videos showed people wearing Halloween costumes lying in the streets and on stretchers as first responders rendered first aid on the streets.
Meanwhile, Saturday's deaths will likely draw public scrutiny of what government officials have done to improve public safety standards. The incident in Seoul, South Korea also marks Asia's second major crushing disaster in a month. On October 1, police in Indonesia fired tear gas at a soccer match, causing a crush that killed 132 people as spectators attempted to flee.
Police and medical professional deployed in Seoul
More than 1,700 response personnel from across the country were deployed to the streets in Seoul to help the wounded, including about 520 firefighters, 1,100 police officers and 70 government workers. Bodies were being sent to hospitals or a gym, where bereaved family members could identify them. Most of the dead and injured are in their 20s. This was the deadliest crushing disaster in South Korean history. In 2005, 11 people were killed and around 60 others were injured at a pop concert in the southern city of Sangju.
(With inputs from AP news)