Halloween Festival Turns into Tragedy in Seoul

  • Publish date: Tuesday، 01 November 2022
Halloween Festival Turns into Tragedy in Seoul

Partygoers in costumes fleeing in terror, desperate efforts at first aid on the sidewalks, and scores of bodies queued up under makeshift shrouds: a Halloween festival turned tragic Saturday in Seoul's vibrant Itaewon district.

More than 150 people, mostly in their teens and twenties, were killed in a crowd spike and stampede in this widely known, cosmopolitan district of South Korea's capital, located near a former US military base and reputed for its bars and clubs.

Tens of thousands of people descended on the district Saturday night, many dressed in extravagant Halloween costumes, for the first major Halloween ceremony since South Korea lifted most Covid-19 restrictions.

"My friend said: something terrible is happening outside," said Jeon Ga-eul, 30, who was sitting in a bar at the moment the stampede hit.

"I said: what are you talking about? And then I went outside to see and there were people doing CPR in the street."

The district is a maze of sharply sloping, twisted alleyways on either side of the main road, immortalized by the popular 2020 K-Drama hit Itaewon Class.

According to eyewitnesses, the crowd was unusually intense on Saturday night, and Jeon stated that he felt unsafe even before the disaster.

"There were so many people just being pushed around and I got caught in the crowd and I couldn't get out at first too," he said.

According to the fire department, 97 women and 54 men were killed, and eyewitnesses informed the Yonhap News Agency that relatively small people struggled more in the crowds.

"A short person like me could not even breathe," According to a female eyewitness, she survived because she was on the edge of the alleyway, while "people in the middle suffered the most."

Bystanders help

The stampede occurred in Itaewon's narrow, sloping alley near the Hamilton Hotel.

On Twitter, one eyewitness described the panic that ensued when people "kept pushing down" into the already crowded alleyway.

Given the large number of victims, first responders asked passers-by to provide first aid and undertake CPR on victims in the streets, right next to the chaos.

People who had been crushed or trampled to death lay in lines, covered with blankets or makeshift shrouds.

Passers-by sat puzzled on the sidewalk, checking their phones. Others consoled themselves by hugging each other.

Police detectives had closed off and were inspecting the debris-strewn alleyways, where bits of disregarded Halloween costumes and trash were still strewn over the paving stones, early Sunday.

President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea, who declared a period of national mourning in a televised speech, visited the accident site and spoke with police and other officials.

Follow us on our Whatsapp channel for latest news