BAt least 146 people were killed and around 150 others injured in a stampede in the South Korean capital Seoul. Many victims were trampled to death, said a fire department spokesman on Sunday night (local time). Thousands of people had crowded the narrow streets of the Itaewon neighborhood for the first Halloween celebrations since the start of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. A mass panic broke out around 10:20 p.m.
Initially, the fire department had spoken of dozens of people with cardiac arrest. It was later said that at least 59 people had been killed and around 150 injured. According to the latest information from the fire brigade, the death toll could rise even further. 74 bodies were taken to hospitals and 46 to a neighboring gym, the spokesman said.
Photos and videos showed people lying on the ground being cared for by rescue workers. According to the fire department, more than 140 ambulances were on site. Police officers cordoned off the scene of the accident in the popular nightlife area. President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered hospital beds to be vacated as soon as possible.
The South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted an eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous. “People were layered on top of each other like in a grave,” the witness described the scenes. “Some gradually lost consciousness, while others already looked dead at that point.”
The Halloween festival coming from the USA is actually celebrated on the night of October 31st to November 1st. It goes back to a Celtic custom, according to which evil spirits should be driven away at the beginning of the dark season.