More than 150 people have died and at least 80 have been injured in a crush among huge Halloween crowds in a popular nightlife area of South Korea’s capital. Officials say around 100,000 people gathered in the narrow streets of Itaewon to celebrate Halloween, but a large number of people fell down a narrow downhill slope which resulted in the tragedy.
The incident is thought to have happened at around 10.20pm on Sunday (October 29), and fire authorities were initially called to reports that 10 people were pushed down in the crush and struggling to breathe. It was the first outdoor no-mask Halloween event since the pandemic.
The BBC reports today that 153 people have died in the crush in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, with another 82 injured. The dead include 20 foreign nationals and most victims were teenagers and adults in their 20s, emergency services say.
South Korea’s Interior Minister Lee Sang-min says officials did not anticipate that 100,000 people would flock to Itaewon’s narrow streets.
He also defended the decision not to send more police to the area in advance and said many officers had been deployed elsewhere in the capital on Saturday evening.
"I am not certain about the exact number of police personnel deployed [to Itaewon] but a considerable number had been deployed at Gwanghwamun where a large crowd was expected for a protest," he told a briefing earlier today.
"The expected size of the crowd in Itaewon did not deviate much from the previous years, so I understand that the personnel were deployed at a similar scale as before."
Lee Sang-Min says some victims had not yet been identified because they were below the age of 17 or did not have an adult ID.