The bustling district of Itaewon in Seoul turned into a Halloween disaster after at least 146 people were confirmed dead and 150 more were injured due to a massive crowd rush on Saturday night, October 29 KST. The numbers were confirmed by fire officials at around 4 am KST on Sunday, October 30, 2022.
Update as of 9:40 am KST: As per The Korea Herald, the death toll increased to 151 while 82 people were injured. Among the deceased, 19 people were identified as foreign nationals.
Trigger warning: Disturbing images, mentions of death.
Halloween celebrations were scheduled to take place in full swing in the entertainment district for the Halloween weekend. Several images and videos spread on social media showcasing the grueling conditions and overcrowding on the streets. In the pictures and as per the audience accounts, it was jam-packed with people and there was no space for walking.
Authorities initially reported nearly 50 people getting cardiac arrests. Pictures going viral on Twitter also show bodies laid down on the streets.
Itaewon goes from an enthusiastic Halloween celebration to a deadly disaster
Itaewon, a district in central Seoul, is known for its hustle-bustle. Halloween preparations and celebrations saw the district open after being closed for the last couple of years due to the pandemic.
Nearly 100,000 people were reported to have attended the weekend celebration. It was also reported that the enthusiastic people joined the group without any COVID-19 precautions.
According to The Korea Herald, 346 firefighters were mobilized along with 142 ambulances to deal with the Halloween crowd rush aftermath. As mentioned earlier, the latest reports as per 4 am KST on Sunday, October 30, 2022, list 146 dead and 150 injured.
Although authorities shared that identification of the deceased will take time, they said that the majority of the deceased are people in their 20s.
At 11:30 pm on Saturday night, fire authorities began receiving phone calls from people experiencing breathing difficulties. Phone calls were tallied to 81.
Around 400 rescue workers were dispatched. In a video going viral on Twitter, rescue workers can be seen conducting emergency CPR on dozens of people lying on the street near the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon.
President Yoon Suk-yeol asked the ministers to “make every effort to promptly provide aid to the victims.” He also instructed officials to keep safety measures in check in case any emergency arises due to Halloween celebrations across the country.
Raphael Rashid, a Seoul-based journalist, shared his experience of finding Itaewon “the most packed” after restrictions were lifted.
The Seoul city government also sent emergency safety alerts asking people to go home. Several venues have also started closing down, reported Hyunsu Yim, a writer at The Korea Herald.
Additionally, many partygoers and venues were criticized for their lack of empathy. Twitter users spread videos of people singing and dancing without leaving any space for the ambulances with victims to pass. In other videos, venues can be heard blasting music without any heed to the grievous situation outside.
Meanwhile, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who was on a visit to Europe, is reportedly returning home after hearing about Itaewon’s Halloween disaster.
Itaewon Street is completely jam-packed with no moving traffic as more emergency vehicles try to reach the incident location.
According to officials, the death toll is expected to rise.
Note: As this is still a developing story, more details are expected to emerge.