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What is a Crowd Crush? Itaewon stampede video goes viral as Halloween incident sparks concern worldwide

A stampede in South Korea
A stampede in South Korea's Itaewon district left over 150 dead (Image via Sky Midnight/Twitter and Kelly Kasulis Cho/Twitter)

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.

At least 149 people, mostly teenagers and young adults in their 20s, were killed in South Korea when a crowd celebrating Halloween surged into an alley in a night-life area of Seoul #stampede 📍#Itaewon #SouthKorea #Halloween https://t.co/HZDxmNV8Nz

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.

Absolute Chaos! Hawolleen Stampede.Dozens killed after Halloween crowd surge in South Korea's Capital Seoul. 150 injured in an incident at Halloween festivities in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood Saturday night, according to the Yongsan Fire Department chief. https://t.co/XDoIElNhfS

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.

there’s no room to walk or do anything in itaewon and this was about an hour ago?? my friend is there currently and says there’s still crowds and ppl partying. they need to be cleared out ?? ppl are gonna continue to collapse if this is a stampede issue like ?? https://t.co/oiwJniCCAS

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

Netizens expressed concern amid heartbreaking loss in Itaewon Halloween stampede tragedy (Image via Ellio Maya/Twitter)
Netizens expressed concern amid heartbreaking loss in Itaewon Halloween stampede tragedy (Image via Ellio Maya/Twitter)

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.

seeing the no of ppl doing cpr on so many bodies at the same time is so horrific & heartbreaking..itaewon stampede really is a grim reminder of how huge crowds in tight spaces can turn deadly due to crowd crush resulting in cardiac arrest from asphyxiation https://t.co/x463DNmQCQ
Devastating news coming from Itaewon, South Korea . Around 60 people died and over 120 injured in Halloween stampede. Just came across the visuals and I can say that it might be the scariest halloween. Prayers for the safety of everyone present there. https://t.co/i9h4Z0ogx5
TW // StampedeA few hours ago an incident from Itaewon, South Korea happened during Halloween night146 ppl passed away, more than 80 ppl injuredmy heart breakshttps://t.co/sN694sWFib
“how can people die from overcrowding? why did people go into the crowd knowing they could get swept in?” here is the alleyway where the incident started from. #ITAEWONHALLOWEEN #ItaewonStampede #itaewon #ItaewonSouthKorea https://t.co/3vpBl8ZTD6
My deep condolences to the victims of the Itaewon tragedy. I have never seen of heard anything more terrifying than this tragedy. I’m in deep shock and concern. Praying for Itaewon 🤍
One of the most terrifying nights. I’m just speechless here…Pray for itaewon. Hope everyone’s safe. #seoul #Itaewon #korea #이태원 twitter.com/i/web/status/1… https://t.co/DM7SYuaDPQ
So sad.. such a tragedy.. I respectfully express my condolences. #prayforitaewon

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.

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Edited by Barsha Roy
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