South Korea crowd surge: Survivors, witnesses describe event


SEOUL, South Korea –

In one moment, hundreds of Halloween revellers crammed into the slim, vibrant streets of Seoul’s most cosmopolitan neighbourhood, keen to indicate off their capes, wizard hats and bat wings.

In the following, a surge of panic unfold as an unmanageable mass of individuals jammed right into a slim alley in Itaewon. Toppled revellers had been trapped for so long as 40 minutes, stacked on each other “like dominoes” in a chaotic crush so intense that garments had been ripped off.

A shocked Seoul was simply starting on Monday to place collectively the large scope of the crowd surge on Saturday evening that killed no less than 153, principally individuals of their 20s and 30s, together with international nationals. The Ministry of the Interior and Safety stated it anticipated extra deaths as a result of there have been greater than 130 injured, many in critical situation.

Witnesses described a nightmarish scene as individuals carried out CPR on the dying and carried limp our bodies to ambulances, whereas dance music pulsed from garish golf equipment lit in vibrant neon. Others tried desperately to drag out these trapped on the backside of the crush of individuals, however usually failed as a result of there have been too most of the fallen on prime of them.

“We were just stuck together so tightly we couldn’t even shift to call out and report the situation,” stated one survivor, surnamed Lee. “We were strangers, but we held each others’ hands and repeatedly shouted out, ‘Let’s survive!’”

Kim Mi Sung, who works for a non-profit group in Itaewon, informed The Associated Press that 9 out of the ten individuals she gave CPR to finally died. Many had been bleeding from their noses and mouths. Most had been ladies who dressed as witches or had been in different Halloween costumes; two had been foreigners.

“It was like a hell,” Kim stated. “I still can’t believe what happened.”

In this ultra-wired, high-tech nation, anguish, terror and grief — in addition to most of the particulars of what occurred — are taking part in out most vividly on social media. Users posted messages desperately searching for associates and family members, as witnesses and survivors described what they went by means of.

“I thought I was dying,” one woman said in posts on Twitter. “My entire body was stuck among everyone else, while people laughed from a terrace and videotaped us. I thought I would really die if I cried out. I stretched my hands out to (others) who were above me and I managed to get out.”

An unidentified lady in her 20s wept as she described the scene to the Yonhap information company: “It seemed just like the graves of individuals piled upon each other. Some of them had been slowly dropping consciousness and others appeared to have already died.”

A person, surnamed Kong, stated he managed to flee to a close-by bar together with his associates after the crush occurred. He noticed by means of the bar home windows that individuals had been falling on prime of one another “like dominoes,” Yonhap reported.

When a 27-year-old workplace employee who gave solely his surname, Choi, left the bar he’d been in throughout the crush, he noticed dozens of police and paramedics. “It sort of seemed like a struggle zone,” he stated.

The our bodies of 10 to fifteen individuals had been lined up in entrance of the King Kebab restaurant on the asphalt and had been being lined up with blue tarps as he walked by.

“It looked like they were sleeping — eyes closed, mouth opened. They looked like mannequins,” Choi stated.

Friends and relations gathered at a neighborhood authorities workplace to attempt to discover information in regards to the lacking.

One Twitter consumer posted a sequence of messages asking for details about a 17-year-old good friend who had gone to Itaewon to have a good time carrying a hairband that seemed like cat ears.

“I lost contact with her. She’s been a friend of mine for 12 years, and we were like family. Please help me,” the message stated.

Even after the crush, witnesses stated they noticed some revellers not instantly making approach for emergency autos, rescuers and law enforcement officials. One viral video clip on Twitter displaying a crowd of younger individuals dancing and singing close to the carnage drew a number of insults from South Koreans.

Ken Fallas, a Costa Rican architect who has labored in Seoul for the previous eight years, watched shocked as a dozen or extra unconscious partygoers had been carried out from a slim backstreet full of kids dressed like film characters.

Fallas stated police and emergency employees pleaded with individuals to step up in the event that they knew the right way to give CPR as a result of they had been overwhelmed by the big variety of injured.

“I saw a lot of (young) people laughing, but I don’t think they were (really) laughing because, you know, what’s funny?” Fallas stated. “They were laughing because they were too scared. Because to be in front of a thing like that is not easy. Not everyone knows how to process that.”


AP journalists Juwon Park in Seoul, South Korea, and Jee-won Jeong and Kiko Rosario in Bangkok contributed to this story.


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