At least 146 people were killed and 150 injured in a crowd stampede in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Saturday night during Halloween celebrations, the local fire department has disclosed.
The incident occurred in the narrow alley near the Hamilton Hotel in the Itaewon District, the most international area of the city, which is close to the Yongsan Garrison US military base.
Local media quoted an eyewitness who said the area had become so crowded that rescuers could not immediately get to the victims and attempt resuscitation.
According to the Korea Herald, around 100,000 people flocked to the area throughout the day to celebrate the first Halloween weekend without the mask mandate and social distancing measures that were in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not clear exactly what caused the stampede.
President Yoon Suk-yeol chaired an emergency response meeting shortly after the tragedy. “The top priority is transporting and rescuing the patients and providing prompt medical treatment for the affected people,” he said, according to a spokesperson.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon has cut short his trip to Europe and decided to return to the city, officials said.