At least 151 people, mostly teenagers and young adults in their 20s, have been killed in South Korea’s capital, Seoul following a crush that happened when a huge crowd thronged a narrow street during Halloween celebrations.
The stampede in the entertainment district of Itaewon on Saturday night has also left 82 people hurt, with 19 of them seriously injured. The stampede happened at about 10:20 p.m. (13:20 GMT).
Witnesses told Reuters that there were 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.
Speaking to Reuters, 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.
According to Reuters, 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, a 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.
Police confirmed that dozens of people were given cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the streets, while others were taken to nearby hospitals.
It was the first Halloween event in Seoul in three years after the country lifted COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing. Many of the partygoers were wearing masks and Halloween costumes.
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol has since declared a period of national mourning.
“This is truly tragic,” he said in a statement. “A tragedy and disaster that should not have happened took place in the heart of Seoul last night.”
The disaster is among the country’s deadliest since a 2014 ferry sinking that killed 304 people, mainly high school students.
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