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South Korea stampede: What we know so far about the crowd crush that left dozens dead

A crowd crush at Halloween celebrations in Seoul, South Korea left many young people dead. There were more than 1,700 emergency personnel on the scene.

Officials claim The stampede occurred after large numbers pushed forward along a narrow street during celebrations.

Sky News examines the causes and possible solutions to this tragedy, which is being called one of South Korea’s worst-ever disasters.



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What’s the deal?

According to fire officials, at least 151 people were killed and 82 more were injured in the Seoul stampede on Saturday night.

A large crowd pushing on an alleyway in the Itaewon neighborhood of the South Korean capital, a popular leisure and nightlife area in the capital, crushed the victims.

Learn more about South Korea

Choi Seongbeom, chief Seoul’s Yongsan Fire Department, stated that the number of fatalities could increase and that a unspecified number were in critical condition. At least 50 people are being treated for cardiac arrest.

Mr Choi stated that “a number of people fell during Halloween festivals, and we have many casualties.”

He stated that the bodies were being transported to hospitals and a gym so bereaved relatives could identify them.

He said that the majority of those who died and were injured are women in their 20s, and that many of them were near nightclubs.

Witnesses claimed that the crowd became more disorderly and agitated throughout the evening. It happened around 10.20pm GMT.

Many people described chaotic scenes that occurred moments before the crush. There were police officers present to assist in the anticipation of difficulty maintaining control over the crowds.

Image All available emergency personnel in Seoul were sent to the scene of the stampede


What is the reason for the stampede?

Although it is unclear what caused the crowd surge, local media reports suggest that many people rushed to the area after hearing that a celebrity was there.

Witnesses claimed that people had flooded the narrow alleyway near the Hamilton Hotel, Itaewon.

Yonhap news agency was told by a witness in his 20s that the witnesses in front of him said: “As people fell over, the backs were crushed.”

Online footage showed that hundreds of people were trapped in the narrow, sloped alleyway. They were crushed and left immobile while emergency officers and police attempted to free them.

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Large crowds at Seoul Festivities

The Yongsan fire chief Mr Choi said that all deaths could be attributed to the narrow alleyway crush.

Another video showed scenes chaotically filmed by firemen and citizens tending to dozens of unconscious people.

Media reported that police will also investigate whether bars and clubs in this area are complying with safety regulations.


What are the witnesses saying

Moon Ju-young (21 years old) said that there were obvious signs of trouble in the alleys prior to the incident.

He told Reuters that it was at least 10 times more crowded than normal.

Kim, a survivor, told Seoul’s Hankyoreh newspaper that people fell on each other “like dominos” when they were pushed in narrow streets.

Kim stated that some people shouted “Help me!”

Others were also short of breath.

Kim described being trampled on by others for approximately 1.5 hours before she was rescued.

Image Officials warn that death toll could rise

Lee Chang-kyu (another survivor) told the newspaper that he witnessed five to six men push others before any one or two of them fell at the beginning of the stampede.

Hwang Min-hyeok, a visitor from Itaewon, spoke out to YTN about the shocking sight of rows upon rows of bodies in an alleyway near the Hamilton Hotel.

He stated that emergency workers were overwhelmed at first, and pedestrians had to perform CPR on injured people lying on the streets.

He said that people cried alongside their bodies.

A stampede in Itaewon, Seoul.
Image This stampede occurred during Halloween celebrations in Itaewon (Seoul).


Emergency Response

After the stampede, all Seoul’s emergency personnel were on the streets treating the injured.

According to the National Fire Agency, more than 1,700 personnel were sent from South Korea, including 520 firefighters and 1,100 police officers.


Post-pandemic crowds

Itaewon is a popular place for young people, who frequent its bars and restaurants. Many were eager to enjoy their first Halloween celebrations together after three years of COVID restrictions.

In April, bars and restaurants were allowed to serve alcohol without a permit. A maximum of 10 persons was permitted for private events. The outdoor mask mandate was also lifted.

According to some estimates, there were around 100,000 people at Saturday’s event.

Park Jung-hoon (21), said that he saw large crowds at Christmas and fireworks, but this scene was many ten times larger than any of those.”

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