Seoul stampede: Death toll touches 151; Yoon declares national mourning
The deceased were primarily teenagers and young adults in their 20s
The death toll in South Korea's Halloween stampede incident touched 151 on Sunday morning, as authorities fear the fatalities could rise further as many are still in critical condition.
The deceased were primarily teenagers and young adults in their 20s.
Over 82 people were injured in the melee and many are in serious condition and receiving emergency treatment, Reuters quoted Choi Sung-beom, head of the Yongsan Fire Station.
He added that the deaths were likely from the crush in the single narrow alley.
Latest reports from Seoul indicate that as many as 100,000 people gathered at Itaewon district in Seoul for the country's biggest outdoor Halloween festivities on Saturday night.
The incident occurred when a huge crowd surged into a narrow alley in a nightlife area. Visuals of emergency workers and pedestrians desperately performing CPR on people lying in the streets emerged from South Korea after the news about the incident broke.
Though there is no official version of what went wrong at the Halloween outdoor event, survivors claim many people fell and toppled one another like dominos after being pushed by others.
Though police were posted at the party spot, even they faced trouble controlling the crowd.
After the tragedy, South Korea has assigned a total of 848 personnel, including 346 firefighters, for rescue operations.
As of early Sunday, some 270 missing reports were made in connection with the accident.
Moon Ju-young, 21, told Reuters there were clear signs of trouble in the alleys before the incident.
Other eyewitnesses say they saw rows of bodies near the hotel. According to a survivor, they were trapped for over an hour before help arrived.
Some were heard shouting 'help me' while others struggled to breathe, AP quoted a local newspaper. Another survivor claims he saw about five to six men push others before one or two began falling.
One partygoer claimed he escaped being trampled after getting into a bar whose door was opened. Another woman said she was lucky to be standing along the side of the alley. Those caught in the middle of the alley had no escape.
Despite the narrow alley being packed wall-to-wall, people continued to pour, and those on the top of the sloped street fell on those below them.
Authorities were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people lying in the alley as they rushed to administer CPR to the injured.
The reports added that authorities have set up a makeshift morgue in a building adjacent to the scene. About four dozen bodies were carried out later on wheeled stretchers and moved to a government facility to identify the victims.
The Itaewon district, a popular spot for young South Koreans and expatriates alike, has several bars and eateries. It has hosted many such events, even during Christmas.
But, Saturday was the first after long since the pandemic began. The South Korean government eased COVID-19 restrictions in recent months.
Meanwhile, South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol declared a period of national mourning on Sunday.
Yoon expressed condolences to the victims and wished for a speedy recovery to the injured. "This is truly tragic," he said in a statement.