Over 150 dead after Halloween stampede in South Korea
At least 151 people were killed and 82 injured in a crowd stampede in the South Korean capital Seoul on Saturday night during Halloween celebrations, the local fire department has said.
The incident occurred in a narrow alley near the Hamilton Hotel in the Itaewon District, the most international area of the city, close to the Yongsan Garrison US military base.
According to the Korea Herald, around 100,000 people flocked to the area throughout the day to celebrate the first Halloween weekend without the mask mandate and social distancing measures that were in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is not clear exactly what caused the stampede. Eyewitnesses said the area had become so crowded that rescuers could not immediately get to the victims and attempt resuscitation.
According to local media, at least 19 of those killed were foreigners, including citizens of Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway. Moscow's embassy in Seoul confirmed the deaths of two Russian citizens.
The majority of the victims were in their late teens and 20s, according to Yonhap news agency. Dozens of the injured were sent to hospitals in the capital, with at least 19 seriously injured.
President Yoon Suk-yeol chaired an emergency response meeting shortly after the tragedy. “The top priority is transporting and rescuing the patients and providing prompt medical treatment for the affected people,” he said, according to a spokesperson.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon has cut short his trip to Europe and decided to return to the city, officials said.