At least 59 people died as 150 injured in a stampede at a prominent market in South Korea’s capital Seoul, where a massive crowd had gathered for Halloween festivities, reports said.
Police and firemen were seen trying to revive people who’d gone into cardiac arrest amid chaos in narrow streets.
충격주의)현재 이태원 압사 사망자 발생했다는듯 pic.twitter.com/ExGTyJQQN9
— 이것저것 소식들 (@feedforyou11) October 29, 2022
The crowd, estimated to be around 1 lakh, had gathered on Saturday night in Itaewon, a central district of the megacity which has hundreds of shops and winding, narrow streets, local news outlets said.
Excitement was heightened in the run-up to October 31, the first Halloween after two years of muted celebrations due to Covid restrictions.
It was just before midnight local time that dozens of people fell unconscious near a hotel, reported The Korea Herald. Fire authorities said they received 81 reports regarding breathing difficulties as of 11.30 pm, said the report. Common people also attempted resuscitation — by pressing the chest to revive the heart — in videos that showed the scenes of panic.
Deaths were reported two hours later by news agencies PTI and AFP, quoting officials. The injured had many women in their 20s, local media reports said.
A fire department official confirmed the incident to news agency AFP, saying that more than 140 ambulances had been dispatched to the scene.
truly the scariest halloween of my life—30 down, 400 rescue workers deployed. please avoid itaewon and stay safe. #이태원사고pic.twitter.com/PC1GBJt7qk
— Chloe Park 🦋 in Seoul (@chloepark) October 29, 2022
Hyunsu Yim, a journalist with The Korea Herald, tweeted: “Absolute scenes of chaos in Itaewon right now as the Halloween night has turned into a major safety hazard with at least several party-goers being carried into ambulances.”
He shared two photos, too.
Absolute scenes of chaos in Itaewon right now as the Halloween night has turned into a major safety hazard with at least several party-goers being carried into ambulances. pic.twitter.com/JqVpbYiFrv
— Hyunsu Yim (@hyunsuinseoul) October 29, 2022
He added: “I’m seeing pictures that I don’t think is wise to share here but they are heartbreaking. I’m sure more details will come out later but what’s certain now is tonight is going to go down as one of the most terrible and sad nights for Halloween in this country.”
Before the stampede, some Twitter users had been posting warning to people not to come to the area as it was crowded beyond control.
นี่คือเกือบแบบตายที่แปลว่าตายจริง แขนเกือบหัก แบบติดผนัง หน้าแม่ลอยขึ้นมาเลย นี่จะไปหาหมอแล้วเจ็บแขนเจ็บซี่โครงมาก😭 #รีวิวเกาหลี#เที่ยวเกาหลี#อิแทวอนpic.twitter.com/DFPoLphfXX
— JKL🐰 (@JKL97ML) October 29, 2022
“Don’t come to Itaewon. It’s almost death-like here… My arm almost broke,” posted a woman along with videos.
President Yoon Suk-yeol issued a statement through a spokesperson: “All related ministries and agencies, led by the minister of public administration and security, should make every effort to promptly provide aid to the victims.”