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153 people crushed to death as thousands gather for Halloween celebration

153 people crushed to death as thousands gather for Halloween celebration

The chaos has led to one of the country’s worst disasters in memory

South Korea is in mourning after at least 153 people died in a crush during a Halloween celebration.

Tens of thousands of people had descended on the streets of the popular party district of Itaewon on Saturday (29 October) as it marked the first Halloween weekend since Covid restrictions had lifted in the country.

The night descended into chaos when crowds began to grow, with photos and footage shared on social media showing hundreds of partygoers – many in their teens and 20s – crammed into a narrow alley.

At least 153 people sadly lost their lives in Itaewon.
Newscom/Alamy Stock Photo

South Korean news agency Yonhap said many victims suffered from 'cardiac arrest' while others reported 'difficulties breathing'.

According to Choi Seong-beom, head of the fire department in Yongsan, a total of 153 people, including 20 foreigners, were killed in the crush, while 82 were injured, 19 of which were considered serious.

Among those who lost their lives, at least 97 were women.

Officials have warned that the death toll could rise due to those who sustained serious injuries.

The foreigners killed were from countries including Australia, Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway.

Though it's not known what caused the crush, some have suggested thousands piled in to 'see a celebrity' at a bar, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Authorities are now investigating the incident.
Xinhua/Alamy Stock Photo

The catastrophe, which is one of the worst in South Korea's history, saw more than 1,700 emergency response forces arrive on the scene.

This figure included 517 firefighters, 1,100 police officials and about 70 government workers.

President Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a period of mourning, which will run until midnight on 5 November.

He said: "A tragedy that should not have happened occurred in the middle of Seoul last night on Halloween.

"I pray for those who died in an unexpected accident and hope that the injured will recover quickly."

Announcing that an investigation into the disaster is underway, he also said measures will be executed to ensure incidents like this never happen again.

South Korea is now in a national period of mourning.
Newscom/Alamy Stock Photo

"We will have relevant ministries such as the Ministry of the Interior and Safety conduct emergency inspections not only for Halloween events but also for local festivals and thoroughly manage them so they are conducted in an orderly and safe manner," he added.

The Seoul city government said that 355 missing person reports had been made in connection with the accident as of this morning (30 October).

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677

Featured Image Credit: Xinhua/Newscom/Alamy

Topics: World News, Halloween

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