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Over 150 dead after Halloween crowd surge in Seoul

Medical staff transport a victim of a Halloween crush on a stretcher in the district of Itaewon in Seoul on October 30, 2022.
Jung Yeon-Je
/
AFP via Getty Images
Medical staff transport a victim of a Halloween crush on a stretcher in the district of Itaewon in Seoul on October 30, 2022.

Updated October 30, 2022 at 7:24 AM ET

At least 153 people were killed and 133 others were injured in a crowd surge on Saturday night, after Halloween celebrations turned deadly in the capital of South Korea.

The stampede broke out in Itaewon, a popular district in Seoul among locals and foreigners alike because of its international cuisine and nightlife.

Some 100,000 people were estimated to have flocked to the neighborhood to celebrate Halloween — forming the biggest crowds seen in the area since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local media outlets report that the crowd surge is believed to have taken place off of a main street, in a narrow alley filled with bars and restaurants.

The chief of Seoul's Yongsan fire department, Choi Seong-Beom, said the death toll could rise and it's still unclear the exact number of people in critical condition. Many of the victims were young adults, according to local media reports.

Emergency workers from around the country were deployed to the district to treat the injured in a temporary medical center.

Pictures and videos from the scene show first responders taking some of the dead and injured away on stretchers, while many covered bodies lay in the street.

President Yoon Suk Yeol convened a meeting and ordered officials to deploy emergency personnel, secure hospital beds and treat the injured. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-Hoon cut short a trip to Europe to return home.

Saturday's stampede is the deadliest known crowd disaster in South Korean history. In 2005, 11 people were killed and more than 50 others were injured during a pop concert in the southern city of Sangju.

This was at least the second deadly crowd surge documented this month. In early October, 125 people died near the gates at a soccer stadium in Indonesia, many of whom were trampled on or suffocated.

Even after last night's tragedy, partying has continued on the side streets of Itaewon into the morning.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.
Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.
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