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151 people including 19 foreigners killed

(Korea Herald/ANN) Relatives are looking for missing family members following a crowd crush in Itaewon in Seoul that killed 151 people, including 19 foreigners. relatives have flocked to hospitals across the city in search of missing family members.

“It’s truly tragic,” Yoon said in a statement on Sunday, hours after some 151 people were killed in a crowd in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood.

“The government will designate the period from today until the accident is brought under control as a period of national mourning,” he said.

Firefighters said most of the victims were women and young people in their twenties and included 19 foreigners from Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway. 82 other people were also injured, 19 of them seriously.

Yonhap News Agency called the disaster, which happened shortly after 10 p.m. local (1300 GMT) when a huge crowd thronged a narrow alley near the Hamilton Hotel, the worst incident. killer in South Korean history. It came during Seoul’s first Halloween celebrations in three years, after the country lifted COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing. Tens of thousands of revelers, wearing Halloween masks and costumes, reportedly flocked to Itaewon for the event.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, although some local media said it happened after a large group of people rushed into an area bar after hearing an unidentified celebrity Getting There. downhill alley as people ended up piling on top of each other.

“People kept pushing in the alley of a downhill club, causing others to scream and fall like dominoes,” an unidentified witness was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying. “I also thought I would be crushed to death as people kept pushing without realizing there were people falling at the start of the stampede.”

“There were so many people being pushed around and I got caught up in the crowd and couldn’t get out at first either,” Jeon Ga-eul, 30, told AFP news agency. “I felt like an accident was going to happen.”

Babette Vanderhaeghen, a Belgian resident of Seoul, told the Korea Joong Ang Daily newspaper that she escaped the melee. “We thought we were going to die because there were way too many people,” she said.

“It seems the casualties were more severe as people tried to escape to nearby shops but were thrown back onto the streets because business hours were over,” the survivor who asked Yonhap told not to be named.

Videos and images from the immediate aftermath showed chaotic scenes of firefighters and citizens treating dozens of people who appeared unconscious. Footage from later that evening showed dozens of bodies sprawled on the sidewalk covered in sheets and rescuers in orange vests loading even more bodies onto stretchers into ambulances.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government, which had issued emergency text messages urging Itaewon residents to return home quickly, said on Sunday it had received reports of 355 people missing as a result of the disaster. He said 60 staff members had been assigned to around 50 hospitals to support the bereaved families of the victims.

The Korea Herald reported desperate scenes outside Soonchunhyang University Hospital, less than a kilometer (mile) from Itaewon, as relatives searched for loved ones. call. A police officer said her son’s last phone activity was in Itaewon, so she rushed there.

“When I arrived in Itaewon, they told me there were a lot of lost phones and I should try the nearby hospital and see if he got there,” she told the Korea Herald. Commenting on the death toll at that time, she said: “One hundred and forty? It is so. Maybe he’s dead. I do not know. I can’t reach him.

Another sobbing mother told the outlet that she had been back and forth between the hospital and a gym in the area where the bodies of the victims had been transported.

” Where should I go ? she asked the policemen there. “Please tell me what to do.”

Kimberly B. Nguyen