A mass of mostly young people among tens of thousands who gathered to celebrate Halloween in Seoul became trapped and crushed as the crowd surged into a narrow alley.
At least 151 people were killed and 82 others were injured in South Korea’s worst disaster in years.
Emergency workers and pedestrians desperately performed CPR on people lying in the streets after the crush in the capital’s nightlife district of Itaewon on Saturday night.
Those killed or hurt were mostly teens and people in their 20s, according to Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire department.
The dead included 19 foreigners, he said, whose nationalities weren’t immediately released. The death toll could rise further as 19 of those injured were in critical condition.
An estimated 1,00,000 people had gathered in Itaewon for the country’s biggest outdoor Halloween festivities since the pandemic began and strict rules on gatherings were enforced.
South Korean government eased COVID-19 restrictions in recent months and this was the first big chance to get out and party for many young people.
While Halloween isn’t a traditional holiday in South Korea, where children rarely go trick-or-treating, it’s still a major attraction for young adults.
Itaewon, near where ex headquarters of US military forces in South Korea operated before moving out of capital in 2018, is expat-friendly district known for its trendy bars, clubs and restaurants.
Witnesses say Itaewon’s streets were so densely clogged with people and slow-moving vehicles that it was practically impossible for emergency workers and ambulances to reach there.
Seoul’s city government said more than 1,000 people have called a city office in nearby Hannam-dong as of midday Saturday.