Crime & Justice

Halloween crowd crush death toll climbs to 158

Seoul, Nov 14 (EFE).- The number of people killed in a crowd crush during Halloween festivities in Seoul at the end of October has climbed to 158, South Korean authorities said Monday.

The death of a woman in her 20s was reported on Monday, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said.

A soldier, also in his 20s, was pronounced dead on Nov. 11.

Most of the 158 victims, including 26 foreigners, are women (102) and between the ages of 20 and 30 years (105).

The foreign nationals killed in the incident are from Russia, Iran, China, the United States, Japan, Norway, Sri Lanka, Austria, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and France.

The bodies of 24 of them have already been repatriated.

On Oct. 29, tens of thousands of people visited the Itaewon neighborhood to celebrate Halloween, the first mass event to be held in South Korea without coronavirus restrictions in place.

The enormous crowd created a crush in a narrow alley – about 3 to 4 meters wide (10 to 13 feet) -, connecting a main avenue with a busy bar area.

The incident also left 31 people seriously injured, of which 10 are still in hospital.

The crush is the worst tragedy to hit South Korea since the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry, in which 304 people lost their lives, most of them high school students.

Both the Yongsan city council and its fire and police departments are under investigation over their response to the tragedy amid allegations security services ignored calls to ramp up police presence in the Itaewon neighborhood where the incident took place.

After the tragedy, South Korea’s prime minister Han Duck-soo acknowledged that there were insufficient protocols in place to avoid the deadly crush and pledged to bring in regulatory changes to prevent such an incident from occurring in the future.

On Monday, Han said that the government was preparing committees to reform the emergency and police response systems with a view to having a legislative proposal ready by December. EFE


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