On October 29, South Korea’s Itaewon witnessed a heartbreaking tragedy as a massive crowd surge and stampede at a Halloween event left more than 150 people dead and another 150 injured.
Trigger Warning: The following article may contain disturbing content and imagery. Readers discretion is advised.
As per local media reports, as many as 100,000 people gathered on the narrow streets of the Itaewon nightlife district to take part in Halloween festivities, but the event soon turned into a nightmare for the attendees.
Although the crowd was maintained in the beginning, a sudden commotion led to people pushing each other and stepping over one another. A survivor told the Associated Press that attendees had a “domino” effect while toppling and falling over amid the crowd.
Witness 21-year-old Park Jung-Hoon told Reuters that the situation was completely out of control:
“We saw a scene from a movie like things happening during a war. They were doing CPR here and there and people were rushing in as nothing was being controlled. It was completely out of control.”
Multiple videos from the tragic night went viral on social media and showed scenes of panic and chaos. Numerous individuals were seen lying on the pavement with emergency workers rushing to the victims’ aid.
Several people suffered cardiac arrest and many were also crushed to death. Horrifying footage captured people falling unconscious and receiving CPR and first aid on the road.
Visuals from the morning after the incident showed littered alleys and the presence of law enforcement officials.
Exploring the meaning of crowd crush
A crowd crush can be defined as an incident when a group of people get entrapped in an overcrowded situation. Reports suggest that a crowd crush occurs when there is a gathering of four to five people per square meter.
Upon exceeding the limit, the crowd often collapses and ends up crushing each individual. It creates massive pressure and often causes asphyxiation. During such incidents, the crowd can also start to sweep individuals against their own accord, causing a stampede.
The majority of crowd surge incidents occur at large gatherings such as social, commercial, athletic or religious events, and can be prevented through better crowd management.
Netizens express concern over Itaewon stampede incident
The Itaewon Halloween stampede incident left several people across the world in utter shock.
Following the tragic incident, many took to Twitter to share their concerns about the crowd surge and express their condolences to the affected individuals.
As reactions continued to pour in online, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol announced a period of national mourning in the wake of the Itaewon tragedy. He said:
“This is truly tragic. The government will designate the period from today until the accident is brought under control as a period of national mourning.”
Media reports suggest that fire officials mentioned that the majority of the victims were women and individuals in their 20s, including foreigners from Iran, Uzbekistan, China, and Norway.