Halloween celebration in Seoul turned into a nightmare: More than 150 dead

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Halloween celebration in Seoul turned into a nightmare: More than 150 dead

Around 150 injured – Many foreign leaders expressed their deepest sorrow at the tragedy that killed many people.

At least 151 dead and around 150 injured are the so far accounts of the tragic turn of the Halloween celebration in Seoul, when hundreds of people were trampled.

Lifeless bodies lay on the pavement, covered with sheets and blankets. Aggressive mid-way CPR efforts. People in carnival costumes were running in panic. The Halloween party turned into a nightmare in the Itewon district, which is famous for its nightlife, with numerous bars in a maze of narrow streets.

“A friend told me: something terrible is happening outside!” said 30-year-old John Ga-ul, who was having a drink in a bar when the tragedy unfolded. “I answered him: what are you saying? I went outside and saw CPR attempts on people who had collapsed on the street.”

The deadly tragedy, one of the worst in recent years in South Korea, unfolded around 10:00 p.m. (local time – 4:00 p.m. Greek time) yesterday Saturday, near the Hamilton Hotel located on a busy avenue. Around it, however, is a labyrinth of narrow alleys…

Hundreds of people were trampled, killing at least 149 – including two foreigners – firefighters told AFP. For its part, South Korea’s Ministry of the Interior added that around 150 people were injured.

Horror scenes

“They were on top of each other, like in a mass grave. Some were gradually losing consciousness, others were already dead,” an eyewitness told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

Lee Bom-seok, a doctor who provided first aid in the area, described the horrific scenes to the YTN television network. “When I attempted the first cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), two victims were lying on the sidewalk. Shortly thereafter, their numbers skyrocketed.”

“Many passers-by rushed to help us,” he continued. “It’s hard to put into words… Many victims were pale. I couldn’t take their pulse or check their breathing and many of them had nosebleeds. Trying to apply CPR, blood was coming out of their mouths,” he describes.

In amateur video posted on Twitter by an eyewitness, a crowd of people in carnival costumes can be seen on a street with several bars. Suddenly there is commotion, passers-by push and fall on each other, screams are heard…

In the early hours of Sunday morning, dazed passers-by sat on the sidewalk consulting their cellphones. Some hugged to comfort each other, while music was still playing from some bars, according to an AFP photojournalist.

The first large public gathering since the Covid-19 pandemic

About 100,000 people, according to South Korean media estimates, had visited the Itewon district to celebrate Halloween, the first large public gathering in the capital Seoul since restrictions against the Covid-19 pandemic were lifted.

The mayor of the South Korean capital, who was away on a trip to Europe, decided to return urgently, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Many foreign leaders expressed their deepest sorrow at the tragedy.

“We mourn with the people of South Korea and send our warmest wishes for a speedy recovery to all those injured,” said US President Joe Biden.

His French counterpart Emmanuel Macron emphasized, among other things, that “France is on your side”.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events in Seoul, our thoughts are with the victims and their families,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on Twitter.

“Deeply saddened by the terrible events,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

“Horrifying news” from Seoul, underlined British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a post on Twitter.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “sincere condolences to the people of South Korea.”

RES-EMP

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