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Officials: 120 dead after Halloween crowd surge in Seoul

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — At least 120 people were killed and 100 others injured when they were crushed by a large crowd advancing on a narrow street during Halloween celebrations in the capital Seoul, South Korean officials said.

Choi Sung-beom, chief of the Seoul Yongsan Fire Department, said the death toll could rise and that an unspecified number of injured were in critical condition after a stampede in the Itaewon recreation area on Saturday night.

He said 74 of the dead had been sent to hospitals, while the bodies of the remaining 46, who were lying on the streets, were being taken to a nearby gym so workers could identify them.

Officials say people were crushed to death after a large crowd began pushing forward in a narrow alley outside the Hamilton Hotel, Seoul’s main party spot.

More than 800 ambulance and police personnel from around the country, including all available personnel in Seoul, were deployed on the streets to treat the victims.

A separate statement from the National Fire Agency said officials were still trying to determine the exact number of patients who received emergency treatment.

Television footage and photos showed ambulances lined up in the streets amid a heavy police presence and paramedics carrying victims on stretchers. Emergency personnel and pedestrians were also seen performing CPR on people lying on the streets.

In one section, paramedics were seen checking on a dozen or more people who lay motionless under blue blankets.

Police, who were restricting traffic in nearby areas to speed up transport of the injured to hospitals across the city, also confirmed that dozens of people were receiving CPR on the streets of Itaewon. The Seoul Metropolitan Government issued emergency text messages urging people in the area to return home as soon as possible.

Earlier, some local media reported that the crash occurred after a large number of people rushed to the Itaewon bar after hearing that an unknown celebrity had visited.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol issued a statement calling on officials to provide prompt aid to victims and check the safety of the celebrations. He also instructed the Ministry of Health to quickly deploy medical teams and provide beds in a nearby hospital to treat the injured.

Local media reported that around 100,000 people took to the streets of Itaewon for Halloween celebrations, the biggest since the start of the pandemic after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in recent months.


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