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151 Dead In Seoul's Nightclub District Halloween Stampede
South Korea’s first Halloween celebration since COVID ended in tragedy Saturday night as 151 partygoers died from a stampede. The majority of the victims were teenagers and young adults who wanted to enjoy the festivities in Seoul’s most popular nightlife district.
Halloween Tragedy In Seoul
Authorities still don’t know exactly what caused the incident but Choi Seong-bum, Fire Department chief in Seoul stated it was a “presumed stampede” where many people fell and left at least 82 people injured.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called for an emergency meeting and addressed the nation to call for a period of mourning “until the handling of the accident is concluded.”
“A tragedy that should not have happened occurred in the middle of Seoul last night on Halloween,” Yoon said. “I pray for those who died in an unexpected accident and hope that the injured will recover quickly.”
Partygoers far and wide were excited about the celebrations in the Itaewon nightclub district without COVID restrictions. Witnesses claim that before the stampede even occurred people were packed in tightly on the street and could barely move from left to right.
“I saw people going to the left side and I saw the person getting to the opposite side. So, the person in the middle got jammed, so they had no way to communicate, they could not breathe,” Witness Sung Sehyun told CNN. He said the space was like a “jammed subway.”
People Buried In Crowds
“We saw a scene from a movie… like things happening during a war,” Witness Park Jung-Hoon, 21, told Reuters. “They were doing CPR here and there and people were rushing in as if nothing was being controlled. It was completely out of control.”
Officials heard the initial reports of people “buried” in the crowds around 10:24 p.m. Saturday.
Many people were taken to hospitals and transferred to facilities all over the city. According to officials, the bodies were moved around to different hospitals and mortuaries.
One US Citizen Injured
Out of all the victims that night one was identified as a US citizen. The US State Department was notified and stated the following, “We are working with local authorities to determine if any additional US citizens were affected and stand ready to provide consular assistance.”
President Joe Biden spoke on the matter and expressed his condolences. “Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in Seoul,” he wrote in a statement. “We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea and send our best wishes for a quick recovery to all those who were injured.”
“The alliance between our two countries has never been more vibrant or more vital – and the ties between our people are stronger than ever. The United States stands with the Republic of Korea during this tragic time,” he wrote.