SEOUL South Korea — South Koreans mourned and searched for their lost relatives during the “hell-like” chaotic scene that killed around 150 individuals, mostly young adults at a massive Halloween celebration crowd swarmed into a small alley in the nightlife district in Seoul.
It was not clear what caused the crowd of people to flood into the alleyway that runs downhill located in Itaewon area on the night of Saturday, but authorities promised to conduct a thorough investigation. People who witnessed the incident said that they were thrown over one another “like dominoes” and some of the victims had blood dripping from their mouths and noses as they received CPR.
Kim Mi Sung, an official of a non-profit organization which is promoting tourism to Itaewon She said she performed CPR on 10 unconscious people, mostly women in costumes for Halloween, including witches and other costumes. Nine of the victims were declared dead right on the spot.
“I cannot believe what’s occurred. It was hell,” Kim said.
At the time of writing the authorities reported that 153 people were killed, and 133 injured. About two-thirds (97) were women. Over 80% of those killed were aged between 20 and 30 and at minimum, four were teenagers.
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The Ministry of the Interior and Safety stated that the number of deaths could increase further as 37 of those injured were in critical condition.
Many people were said not to be aware of the catastrophe that was unfolding just steps from them. People dressed in costumes for Halloween continued to dance and sing close to others lying lifeless in the dirt.
Ken Fallas, a Costa Rican architect who visited Itaewon with his expat buddies and used his smartphone to record a video of unconscious people being taken away through the alley while others called for assistance. He claimed that the high-pitched music only made the situation more chaotic.
“When we started to advance it was impossible in the opposite direction,” Fallas said. “We did not hear anything, because the music was extremely loud. It seems to me this was one of the things that led to this being so complex.”
The video Fallas captured following the fatal crowd surge shows groups of Halloween revelers dragging their insane friends, in succession from an alleyway near Hamilton Hotel, passing by crowds of people in costumes such as capes and Miyazaki costumed from the movie. There are people who administer CPR to people injured on the street, while others yell for help over blaring dance music.
Fallas claimed that police and emergency personnel were constantly begging those who could help in the event that they were able to perform CPR as they felt overwhelmed with the huge amount of injured on the streets.
“I noticed many young people laughing but I don’t believe they were actually laughing, because, well, the funny thing is, ” Fallas said. They laughed because they were scared. Because being in the presence of something like that isn’t easy. There are many who do not know how to handle the information.”
Fallas claimed he and his companions were caught in the crowds moving towards the alley after police officers started breaking the lines behind them to reach the wounded. He claimed that the people who were in his group initially didn’t know the situation.
“We couldn’t go back. The music was extremely loud. No one knew what was going on. The people were still having fun while the situation was unfolding before us,” he explained. “We were thinking,”What’s happening from here? Where can we go? What do we do?’ There was no way out.”
Zen Ogren, 32, was stuck in a hot and packed club in the narrow alleyway, which is a thoroughfare that connects a row of bars with a bustling subway station. It’s also an ideal spot to take photos.
The club’s entrance was blocked off, and crowds were shouting, “Please don’t come out because the people who are there are dying” the woman said. Security guards advised the crowd to keep their distance however, many of them were pushing forward, landing onto the victims who fell.
“They simply were looking to get out of the house,” Ogren said. Families grieving lost searched morgues in hospitals searching for their missing children, and the Seoul government took hundreds of phone calls regarding missing people. Choi Seon Mi waited for hours in the local community center to get information about her daughter, Park Ga-young. She was on a trip to Seoul.
She was thrown off her chair after she learned about the death of her daughter, and then she was left to announce her extended family in the waiting area.
“It seemed as if the skies were falling,” the girl said. “What to do with my child? What can I do to help the child I have?”
Choi’s last talk between her and her daughter told her that it was about Park’s preparations to learn about how to dress in Canada. She was working part-time to help pay for the cost.